Meeke and Patterson pair up for MERC’s Qatar Rally

Northern Ireland’s World Rally Championship stars, Kris Meeke and Chris Patterson, will tackle next weekend’s Qatar International Rally together. 2020 WRC 2 champion Mads Ostberg is another international name taking on the Middle East event.

Meeke and Ostberg will drive a pair of Skoda Fabias with the latter co-driven by Austria’s Ilka Minor.

Qatar hosts the Middle East Rally Championship’s second round of the year, taking place on 10-12 February.

Meeke retired from the event last year with radiator damage. The five-time world rally winner had been involved in a close battle with eventual rally winner Nasser Al-Attiyah.

Al-Attiyah will once again be the man to beat this year. He leads MERC after winning last weekend’s Oman Rally opener by 15 minutes.

Patterson is no stranger to Middle East rallying. He has over 20 MERC rally wins under his belt, mostly claimed alongside Al-Attiyah.

Qatar Rally will be Patterson’s first event with Meeke since Rally Australia in 2013.

Eight of the 14 machines on the FIA entry are R5 cars. Oman’s Hamed Al-Wahaibi and Abdullah Al-Rawahi will drive a pair of Skodas and former series runner-up Nasser Khalifa Al-Atya wheels out his Ford Fiesta R5.

All three were present in Oman last weekend and finished sixth, seventh, and third overall.

“We are delighted to see such a strong entry for the Qatar International Rally and competitors from 15 nations,” said QMMF Executive Director Amro Al-Hamad.

“With eight R5 cars running at the front of the field, we have the strongest competition we have seen in the MERC during the modern era.

“The stages in Qatar are difficult and challenging and are sure to test our visiting drivers and provide a superb spectacle and intense competition.”

Officials at the QMMF have laid on a three-day format that will offer a new seven-kilometre shakedown stage on Thursday 10th February.

This will take place a short distance to the north of the Losail Circuit and close to the Al-Bayt Stadium that will host the opening match of the FIFA World Cup 2022 in November.  

Twelve timed special stages will then run through the Qatar deserts on Friday and Saturday.

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Adam Hall

Brought up in the Irish countryside, Adam was never far away from the world of rallying. From following local events like the Circuit of Ireland and the Ulster Rally, Adam now puts the stories from stages all around the world into words through his website Rally Insight.

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