MERC

Meeke to make rally return in Middle East

Kris Meeke is set to jump back into a rally car just two weeks after finishing his debut Dakar Rally. The five-time World Rally winner is seeded second for the Qatar International Rally, the opening round of this year’s Middle East Rally Championship.

Meeke will drive a Skoda Fabia R5 navigated by Sebastian Marshall. It will be the pair’s first event together since winning the Boucles of Bastogne Legends Rally last February.

“After my first experience of the Dakar, I am now looking forward to taking part in a traditional special stage rally in the desert,” said Meeke.

“I’ve wanted to take part in one of these rallies for a long time and to compete against Nasser [Al-Attiyah] and the Middle East drivers will be a new challenge for me and Seb.

“The terrain will be new to us and I hear that we will need to be careful to avoid punctures.

“But we are both looking forward to this new and exciting challenge.”

15-time Qatar International Rally winner, Nasser Al-Attiyah, leads the entry list in a Volkswagen Polo R5.

Meanwhile, third seed Abdulaziz Al-Kuwari will be partnered by Irish co-driver James Fulton in another Skoda Fabia.

Northern Ireland has a close connection to the Middle East Rally Championship with winning co-drivers including Bobby Willis, Chris Patterson, and Michael Orr.

The two-day rally will take place next weekend, 30-31 January.

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