Al-Attiyah seals 11th FIA MERC title with 9th victory in Jordan

Updated 17 October 2015
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Al-Attiyah seals 11th FIA MERC title with 9th victory in Jordan

DEAD SEA, Jordan: Qatar’s Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah confirmed his 11th FIA Middle East Rally Championship (MERC) title in 13 years with an emphatic start-to-finish victory in the Jordan Rally, round six of the series, which finished with the stunning backdrop of the Dead Sea on Saturday.
The Qatari and his French co-driver Matthieu Baumel won 18 of the 21 gravel special stages that are some of the most beautiful and demanding in the world. His ninth victory in Jordan also marked a 59th career MERC win to put him just one success away from equalling the 60 victories achieved by Dubai’s Mohammed Bin Sulayem between 1984 and 2002. The winning margin for his fourth successive victory in the Hashemite Kingdom was a massive 29min 31sec.
It was also MERC win No.8 for Matthieu Baumel, who duly overtook Jordan’s Khaled Zakaria to become the fifth most successful regional co-driver in history.
“I was happy because Yazeed (Al-Rajhi), Abdulaziz (Al-Kuwari) and Khalid (Al-Suwaidi) were back and pushing today,” said Al-Attiyah. “I did what I had to do. Today, in the morning, I won all five stages. I was driving on the same pace as yesterday. No slowing and no risks.
“Yesterday I chose soft tires for the first five stages and today I used harder tires on the front and soft on the rear. The problem with the soft is a lot of movement and it does not suit the stages especially on the later stages. But this is another fantastic win for me and another Middle East Championship title. I am very happy.”
The Qatari, who clinched the FIA World Cup in Morocco last week and could add the WRC 2 title to his trophy cabinet in Spain next Sunday, was in a class of his own. But a fierce battle waged over the closing stages for the runner-up spot.
Despite losing over 23 minutes on Friday with a broken wheel, Qatar’s Abdulaziz Al-Kuwari and British navigator Marshall Clarke began a sterling fight back through the field. They started the final day in fourth and overhauled the Jordanian duo of Husam Salem and Khaled Juma to snatch second place.
“It was important to me to finish in at least the top three for the sponsors,” said Al-Kuwari. “I was not happy with my performance here, especially with the older tires I have been using. But it’s a good finish after the problems I faced.”
It was fitting that an all-Jordanian team was on the podium and a delighted Husam Salem and co-driver Nancy Al-Majali held on to confirm a second successive victory in Group N and take third overall in their Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution IX. It was the first podium finish for an all-Jordanian crew since Ameer Al-Najjar and Nicola Fanous finished third in 2008.
Khaled Juma has already confirmed the Jordanian national rally title in his Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution VII and he and Faris Al-Tal finished the international in fourth and second in Group N. Ihab Al-Shorafa and Rakan Khair were fifth.
Khalid Al-Suwaidi and Al-Attiyah’s former co-driver Giovanni Bernacchini began the second leg under Rally2 after Friday’s problems and looked set for a sixth-placed finish until late technical issues sidelined their Ford Fiesta RRC.
Saudi’s Yazeed Al-Rajhi and Ulster co-driver Michael Orr also restarted under Rally2 and overhauled the Fiat Stilo of Asem Aref and Moad Arja to finish in sixth position.
Al-Rajhi said: “I thought I would get Rally2 after the super special and not at the end of the leg. So I took 100 minutes of penalties. I did not think the first stage would be included in leg one. This should be taken into consideration in the future. The championship needs every competitor when the numbers are low. You have no chance to come back with these penalties. If I did not go to Spain from here, I would not have continued today.”
Lina Hadadi and Barkev Shadian finished as the highest crew running in a secondary rally behind the FIA event. They fended off a challenge from the fellow all-Subaru Impreza crew of Basheer Azar and Bilal Majdalawe.

2015 Jordan Rally – positions after SS21 (unofficial @ 17.00hrs):

1. Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah (QAT)/Matthieu Baumel (FRA) Ford Fiesta RRC 3hr 07min 51.2sec

2. Abdulaziz Al-Kuwari (QAT)/Marshall Clarke (GBR) Ford Fiesta RRC 3hr 37min 22.2sec

3. Husam Salem (JOR)/Nancy Al-Majali (JOR) Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX 3hr 41min 37.6sec

4. Khaled Juma (JOR)/Faris Al-Tal (JOR) Mitsubishi Lancer Evo VII 3hr 43min 30.6sec

5. Ihab Al-Shorafa (JOR)/Rakan Khair (JOR) Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX 4hr 06min 11.4sec

6. Yazeed Al-Rajhi (SAU)/Michael Orr (GBR) Ford Fiesta RRC 4hr 58min 20.6sec

7. Asem Aref (JOR)/Moad Arja (JOR) Fiat Stilo 5hr 21min 27.8sec


Qatar in talks to buy stake in Leeds United

Updated 26 May 2019
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Qatar in talks to buy stake in Leeds United

  • QSI’s chief Nasser Al-Khelaifi was charged with corruption in connection with the bidding process for this year’s world athletics championships in Doha
  • Leeds United plays in the second tier of English professional football, the Championship, and will be Qatar Sports Investment’s (QSI) first venture into British football

DUBAI: Qatar is in talks to buy a stake in UK football club Leeds United, the Financial Times reported.

Leeds United plays in the second tier of English professional football, the Championship, and will be Qatar Sports Investment’s (QSI) first venture into British football. It currently controls France’s Paris Saint-Germain.

“Qatar Sports Investments will be entering English Football, and Leeds is the club of their choice,” a person familiar with the talks told FT. “Qatar has been looking into the prospects of entering English Football for the past two years.”

QSI’s chief Nasser Al-Khelaifi was charged with corruption in connection with the bidding process for this year’s world athletics championships in Doha, judicial sources said.

Al-Khelaifi, who is also the boss of Qatari television channel BeIN Sports, has been under investigation since March in a probe of the bidding process for the 2017 and the 2019 world championships.

French prosecutors are looking specifically at two payments of $3.5 million in 2011 by Oryx Qatar Sports Investment, a company jointly owned by Al-Khelaifi and his brother Khalid, to a sports marketing firm run by Papa Massata Diack.

Diack’s father Lamine Diack was president of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) from 1999 to 2015 and a member of the International Olympic Committee.

As well as probing the world athletics championships the French investigation is also examining circumstances in which the Olympic Games were awarded to Rio de Janeiro for 2016 and Tokyo for 2020.

Prior to the decision to charge him, Al-Khelaifi had been questioned in March as “person of interest” in the case revolving around the 2011 payments by Oryx which were made at a time when Doha was seeking to host the 2017 world athletics championship and the 2020 Olympics.

Investigators were seeking to determine whether, in return for the payments, Lamine Diack used his influence to gain votes for Doha among IAAF members and also to obtain a date change for the competitions to avoid the heat of the Qatar summer.

(With AFP)