By Sports Reporter/ Doha
Forty-eight riders and drivers and competitors from 15 nations will take part in this weekend’s Qatar International Baja, a new round of the FIM Bajas World Cup.
The Qatar Motor and Motorcycle Federation (QMMF) announced the official entry list on Sunday and, subject to final FIM technical checks, 37 motorcycles, five quads and six SSVs will tackle Qatar’s flagship off-road event.
Joining a formidable local line-up of riders that includes Sheikh Mohamed al-Thani, Abdulrahman al-Sheeb, Mohamed al-Kaabi and Jamal al-Qetiti, are an impressive number of motorcycle entrants from Australia, Tunisia, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the UAE, Bahrain, Mozambique and the United Kingdom.
MX Ride Dubai’s Mohamed and Sultan al-Balooshi are two of the favourites to succeed on two wheels, while Kuwait’s Sarah Khuraibet, Mohamed Jaafar Meshari and Abdullah al-Shatti are also chasing FIM championship glory.
Mozambique’s Paulo Oliveira visits Qatar for the first time on his Husqvarna CRX 450 RX, where he faces competition from Kiwi Edward Lines, Bahrain’s Salman Mohamed and a host of Saudi riders that include Abdulhalim al-Mogheera and Ahmed al-Jaber.
The Qatar International Baja has also attracted a group of 13 British riders that include Dakar veteran and Desert Rose team organiser Patsy Quick, Robert Wallace, Barry Howe, Kurt Burroughs, Andrew Newland, Richard Doors and Vanessa Ruck.
There are six all-terrain vehicles entered in the SSV category: local hopes rest on the shoulders of Ahmed al-Kuwari (Yamaha), Khalid al-Mohannadi (Polaris) and Abdullah al-Khelaifi (Yamaha), but they will face resistance from Jordan’s Ahmed Allouh (Can-Am), Lebanon’s Henry Kahy (Can-Am) and Italy’s Stefano Marrini (Yamaha).
Five Yamaha quads will also tackle the event this weekend, with Saudi Arabia’s Faisal al-Suwayh lining up alongside fellow countrymen, Haitham al-Tuwaijri, Sultan al-Masoud, Hani al-Noumesi and Abdulaziz al-Atawi.
A quintet of British riders have entered the over-450cc category, namely Harry Michael, Hugh Mackay, Joseph Dann, Quick herself and Brett Hunt. Saudi Arabia’s Mohamed al-Khater and Qutaibah al-Sharif are also registered in this non-points scoring section of the Baja. “We are delighted to see such a strong international field of riders and drivers for our first event to be a round of the FIM Bajas World Cup ,” enthused QMMF’s Executive Director Amro al-Hamad. “I am sure that international competitors coming here for the first time will relish the challenge of the route laid on by our team at the QMMF. For those riders returning, I am sure they are aware of the demands of the desert here, both in terms of navigation and the varied type of terrain they will face over the weekend.”
Several competitors will also take part in a Qatar National Baja running behind the main FIM event. Entrants include former MERC rally driver Edith Weiss and Qatar’s Ali al-Jaidah.
The event gets underway at the new Al Bayt Stadium in Al Khor on Thursday afternoon (September 30th). Competitors will then face three stages and 504.24 competitive kilometres in a demanding desert route of 872.44km before the finish at the Al Bayt Stadium on Saturday evening.
Qatar’s Khalid al-Mohannadi will compete in the SSV category.
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