Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah, the defending FIA Middle East rally champion, leads 19 rivals into the start of the Kuwait International Rally on Friday morning.
The event is being organised by the Basil Salem Al-Sabah Motor Racing Club (BMRC) in conjunction with the Kuwait International Automobile Club (KIAC) and day one action revolves around two loops of three desert special stages and a late afternoon sting in the tail.
> Nasser Al Attiyah jets in from Mexico to top impressive Kuwait International Rally entry
Competitors have now completed their reconnaissance of the route and the deserts tracks have thrown up several hidden challenges, even for the most experienced of the drivers. This year’s event will be staged under the patronage of Sheikh Athbi Nayef Jaber Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah.
“I’m very happy to be back in Kuwait,” said Qatar’s Al-Attiyah, who won the Kuwait Rally with former co-driver Giovanni Bernacchini in 2009, 2011 and 2013. “Some stages, particularly seven, eight and 10, are very technical. We can make a difference because there’s a lot of corners and twisty sections. It is not an easy landscape and not easy to see the defined track. After Mexico, the team is ready for the challenge and to achieve the best result possible.”
Meshari Al-Sabti is one of the chief organisers and has worked tirelessly to finalise a challenging route and slick timetable. “The Kuwait International Rally is very close to my heart and a bit like a fifth son,” said Al-Sabti.
“We are working flat out to ensure the best for the rally and today we are going to harvest all our hard work. I have been very pleased about the positive comments from the drivers and good feedback about the route and the stages. We want to write our names in gold within the history books of the Kuwait International Rally.”
The entry list features four recent former winners of the event. Al-Attiyah has his three wins, Yazeed Al-Rajhi claimed victory in the FIA candidate rally in 2008, Khalid Al-Qassimi came out on top in 2010 and Qatar’s Khalid Al-Suwaidi earned his only ever MERC triumph in 2012.
Tomorrow (Friday), teams will tackle the first of the seven special stages at Nuwaisaab (13.82km) from 10.08hrs. Runs through Kheiran and Al-Zour follow at 10.46hrs and 11.24hrs and the three specials are repeated at 13.27hrs, 14.05hrs and 14.43hrs after a regroup and midday service. A run through the Al-Basil stage of 23.64km at 16.31hrs brings first day proceedings to a close.