(MENAFN- The Peninsula)
Doha: Forty-eight 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 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 Mohammed Al Thani, Abdulrahman Al Sheeb, Mohammed 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 Mohammed and Sultan Al Balooshi are two of the favourites to succeed on two wheels, while Kuwait's Sarah Khuraibet, Mohammed Jaafar Meshari and Abdullah Al Shatti are also chasing FIM championship glory.
Mozambique's Paulo Oliveira visits the State of 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.
“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 ,” said 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. 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.
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