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23.10.2008 - Riyadh / Cairo - Saudi Arabi is becoming more and more a popular destination for motor-sport events, motor-shows and tourism events. After the huge success of the Rally Hayel last year now we find the Saudi Rally 2008 making some headlines in the Middle East region. Saudi Arabian rally driver Yazeed Al-Rajhi is one of the top names entered for the new Saudi Rally, which will run as an official candidate event for the 2009 FIA Middle East Rally Championship on November 10th-13th, 2008.

The two-day, special stage event is being organised by the Saudi Arabian Motor Federation (SAMF) under the patronage of HRH Prince Mohamed bin Fahd bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud, Governor of the Eastern Province and the Chairman of the Higher Committee for the new Saudi Rally.

The event will take place a mere three days after the sixth round of the FIA regional series in Cyprus and several regional drivers, who have no chance of winning this year's FIA Middle East title, have opted to support Saudi's new special stage rally, instead of heading to the eastern Mediterranean island.

Al-Rajhi has already shown his winning pedigree this season by clinching an outright win in Kuwait in March and is relishing the chance to make it two wins on candidate events this season. The Saudi suffered a first day accident in Jordan last week and was unable to continue in his new Subaru Impreza N14, which has been prepared by Finland's Tommi Makinen Racing (TMR) and run on events under the management of Britain's Kevin Morris.

Al-Rajhi will, therefore, switch to another 2008-specification Subaru Impreza WRX for his home event and is expected to use Frenchman Matthieu Baumel as his co-driver. "I wouldn't miss my home rally for the world," enthused Al-Rajhi. "It is fantastic news that Saudi Arabia is on the motor sport map and planning to enter the FIA Middle East Championship in 2009. It was obvious that I would support my country."

Another seasoned regional campaigner keen to tackle the new rally is Sharjah's Sheikh Abdullah Al-Qassimi, a former runner-up in the championship and multiple Group N winner. Al-Qassimi skipped the recent round of the series in Jordan, but is planning to tackle the Saudi event with British co-driver Steve Lancaster, who won the regional title with Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah in 2003.

"It will be the first time that I have been to Saudi Arabia, but our entire team is looking forward to it," said Lancaster. "I have heard how well organised the Baja was this year and how fabulous some of the stages were, so I am keen to see Saudi running a special stage event and getting into the championship next year."

The event will be based in the Half Moon Bay area of Al-Khobar, which is easily accessible for overseas competitors from the Bahrain Causeway. Saudi officials have also created a new two-kilometre spectator stage, which will run on Tuesday afternoon after scrutineering. According to Bahraini clerk of the course Elie Semaan, "the stage has nice sharp hairpins and short to long straights, which makes it challenging and technical for the driver."

"We are putting the finishing touches to the route and the logistics of the event now," enthused Mishaal Al-Sudairy, President of the Saudi Arabian Motor Federation (SAMF). "There will be strong support from Saudi Arabia and there has been keen interest from many overseas competitors."

Technical scrutineering will take place on Tuesday, November 11th. This will be followed by the spectator stage and the two days of desert competitive action will be on Wednesday, November 12th and Thursday, November 13th.

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