(MENAFN - Muscat Daily) Muscat- In a first in the sultanate's motor sport history, an all-Omani team of Abdullah al Zubair and his co-driver Faisal al Raisi will be competing in the 2019 FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Rallies.
The duo launched its team, AZ Racing, in Muscat on Monday to announce its participation in the World Cup for Cross-Country Rallies and Cross-Country Baja, beginning with the Baja event in Russia from February 14-17.
The Cross-Country Rally is an event that covers territory of one or several countries and lasts for several days.
While the Baja race has a distance of 500km to cover, the Cross-Country Rally will be over a distance of 2,000km.
Rallying as a sport has a strong following in the region and Oman, too, has boasted of top-class drivers like Hamed al Wahaibi and Nizar al Shanfari in the past.
But this is the first instance when the driver and co-driver are Omanis and competing in the FIA World Cup.
An excited Zubair, who had participated in couple of similar rallies last year along with Raisi, said, 'I love the challenge to overcome difficult terrains. Along with Faisal, we are determined to do well in our maiden World Cup programme, which involves 13 rallies including eight Baja events. We are the first Omani team to participate in a FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Rallies and are proud of it. We are determined to achieve podiums as we have the potential to do it.'
AZ Racing will be powered by experienced South Racing Team from Germany, which is the official works team for Can-Am Maverick X3, the car the duo will compete.
AZ Racing's experienced team manager Ivan Ingrilli of Australia, said, 'To be picked by a professional South Racing team underlines the talent of the Omani duo. And I do expect them to be on podiums.
'I am impressed by their attitude and they have a great future. With Cross-Country Rally changing its course and format every year, it is a challenge to win it every time.'
Zubair said they do 'dream of taking part in Dakar Rally', the pinnacle of cross-country rally, but for now the focus is on the World Cup.
'We have confirmed our participation in all the eight Baja rallies but have shortlisted two of the five cross-country rallies for now. Based on our financial backing and results, we will decide for the remaining three rallies,' said Zubair.
Raisi, who teamed up with Zubair, only last year, was confident that the team has the guts to compete with the best. 'We are ready and having had a good season last year during which we learnt a lot by taking part in different rallies, we are now aiming to bring glory for Oman,' said Raisi.