Qatar Rally to kick-start FIA Middle East Rally Championship

Qatar Rally to kick-start FIA Middle East Rally Championship
Qatar International Rally will kick-start regional action in the 2021 FIA Middle East Rally Championship from Jan. 28-30. (AFP/File)
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Updated 12 January 2021

Qatar Rally to kick-start FIA Middle East Rally Championship

Qatar Rally to kick-start FIA Middle East Rally Championship
  • The start ceremony will be held at Katara from 8:15 p.m. on Thursday evening (Jan. 28)

JEDDAH: The Qatar Motor and Motorcycle Federation (QMMF) has made several tweaks and improvements to the route and itinerary for the forthcoming Qatar International Rally, which will kick-start regional action in the 2021 FIA Middle East Rally Championship from Jan. 28-30.

Speaking from the Dakar Rally, Clerk of the Course Pedro Almeida confirmed that the event would be more compact and feature a slightly more competitive distance than the last event that was staged before the COVID-19 pandemic in 2019.

“All the stages have been organized in the Al-Khor area, some 40 km north of the Lusail Sports Complex, where the rally is based,” said Almeida. “We will run 11 special stages again, but we ran 203.72 competitive kilometers in 2019 and this has been increased to 208.36 km for 2021. There are 130 km less of road sections than 2019 and 36.06 percent of the route is competitive, compared to 28.7 percent in 2019 and 24.43 percent in 2018.”

The start ceremony will be held at Katara from 8:15 p.m. on Thursday evening (Jan. 28), where QMMF officials are also planning to host a brand new opening four-kilometer super special stage on Katara Beach from 9:30 p.m.

The Eraida (20.13 km) and Al-Thakira (20.34 km) special stages are already well known to competitors and will be run twice on leg one (Jan. 29).

The Al-Khor special (18.3 km) has also been used before and is a highlight of leg two. Both the QMMF (22.02 km) and Ras Laffan (21.39 km) stages are completely new and also fit into Saturday’s (Jan. 30) itinerary. They too are repeated in the afternoon and may provide an exciting sting in the tail for entrants on the final day.

The QMMF is hopeful that spectators will take the opportunity to see the action up close and personal at Katara before the meat of the event switches to the northern Qatar deserts over the weekend.

With the recent news that an agreement has been made between Qatar and neighboring Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the UAE, transportation of equipment into Qatar should become much easier over time and the QMMF is hopeful that entrants from many of the GCC countries will support the MERC opener.

Potentially boosting the entry, both this year and in the future, is the news that the FIA has permitted homologated T4 production vehicles to tackle gravel rounds of the MERC in Qatar, Oman, Jordan, Cyprus and Kuwait. Eligible vehicles must have a FIA technical passport.

The Dakar Rally featured 44 of these relatively low-cost vehicles at the start of January and the relaxing of border restrictions may enable some competitors to take part in the Qatar International Rally after the finish of the Dakar event in Jeddah on Jan. 15.

The final date for entry applications has been set for Jan. 13.

For further information about the 2021 Qatar International Rally, contact the Qatar Motor and Motor Cycle Federation (QMMF), PO Box 8708, Doha, Qatar, Tel: + 974 443 79885, Fax: + 974 443 79732, E-mail: [email protected] and www.qmmf.com


Transfers are out of my hands, says Liverpool manager Klopp

Transfers are out of my hands, says Liverpool manager Klopp
Updated 23 January 2021

Transfers are out of my hands, says Liverpool manager Klopp

Transfers are out of my hands, says Liverpool manager Klopp
  • Liverpool suffers alarming loss of form going five league games without a win

LIVERPOOL, UK: Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp said whether any new players come in the January transfer window will not be up to him as he does not hold the purse strings.

The German may be keen for fresh blood as the champions have suffered an alarming loss of form going five league games without a win.

Thursday’s 1-0 loss to Burnley ended a 68-game unbeaten home run and left them six points adrift of leaders Manchester United — who they play in an FA Cup fourth round tie on Sunday.

Injury has deprived Klopp of key central defender Virgil van Dijk but it is up front where their previously irresistible forward have failed to fire.

It is seven hours and 18 minutes since they last found the net in the league.

“Of course somebody else is making the decisions,” he said laughing at his press conference on Friday.

“It was always like this.

“We discuss the situation pretty much on a daily basis, could we improve something or not and we make recommendations but I cannot spend the money.

“I never did.”

Klopp said he would be taking Sunday’s game at Old Trafford seriously against a side they drew 0-0 in the league at Anfield last Sunday.

Klopp left the likes of Mo Salah and Robert Firmino on the bench against Burnley although both came on eventually.

“It is a different competition and yes we want to go through and for that we have to play really well,” he said.

“United are in a good moment and have got the results so far but we are ready 100 percent.”

Klopp had said in the immediate aftermath of the Burnley match that seeing the unbeaten home run end was “a massive punch in the face.”

However, on Friday the 53-year-old said it was about looking forwwards.

“Sixty-eight matches unbeaten is an incredible number,” he said.

“I never spoke about the number (referring to the home unbeaten run) but now it is onto a new series.”

Klopp said the players should not take the blame for what did not go right against Burnley.

“We go again, no doubt about that,” he said.

“I said what I thought after the game.

“When things don’t work out as we want them to then there’s an issue.

“The issue is that I didn’t tell the boys things clearly enough.

“I have to change the way I tell the boys (these things).”