The Manateq Qatar Cross-Country Rally (MQCCR) last night got underway in front of the television cameras and hundreds of onlookers at Souq Waqif in downtown Doha.

The opening round of the FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Rallies has attracted competitors from an impressive 22 countries and as far afield as the USA, Argentina, Brazil, Equador, Western and Eastern Europe, Jordan and the GCC.

Several of the front-running drivers attended the official pre-event press conference on the start podium before cars were flagged away from the ceremonial start in the heart of Qatar’s historic capital.
Competitors spent yesterday morning finalising their technical checks and any outstanding paperwork, before attending a mandatory briefing hosted by officials at the Qatar Motor and Motorcycle Federation (QMMF).

There were a couple of late additions to the entry list for the Manateq Qatar National Baja, with Peruvian co-driver Hector Garcia Chavez teaming up with Ahmed Allouh in a Can-Am Maverick X3 and Maria Angeles Hernandez flying in from Alicante in Spain for the first time to sit alongside German female driver Edith Weiss in a Nissan Patrol.

Today the first car will leave Lusail Sports Arena at 09.30hrs and a liaison of 74.07km takes competitors to the start of a short opening 171.25km Al-Khararra selective section, starting at 10.55hrs.
Al Khararra is a desert village in the municipality of Al-Wakrah, situated to the west of Mesaieed, in south-central Qatar. Its name derives from the Arabic word ‘khar’, which translates as ‘the sound of running water’ – the area features several hills and surface rain run-off is noticeable in the winter.
The day’s stage features two passage controls on the Umm Bab Highway and on the Al-Khararra road after 54.07km and 93.61km, respectively, before finishing on the Sealine road to the south of Doha. A road section of 83.80km brings teams back to the bivouac in Lusail.

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