ERC Vice-Champion Mārtiņš Sesks to Kick Off Qatar International Rally

Doha, January 31, 2024 – ERC Vice-Champion Mārtiņš Sesks has wrapped up testing in the Doha region in preparation for the commencement of the season’s inaugural rally, slated to begin tomorrow. From February 1st to 3rd, Sesks will participate in the Qatar International Rally, marking the opening round of the Middle East Rally Championship season. Martiņš Sesks (Latvia) along with WRC stars Mads Østberg (Norway), and Pierre-Louis Loubet (Italy) are just three of the names on the star-loaded entry list of 22 teams and competitors from 17 nations. All three drivers will compete in a Škoda Fabia RS Rally2 prepared by Sports Racing Technologies (Latvia), fitted with tires from Indian tire giant MRF.

While the Qatar International Rally presents Sesks and Loubet with the opportunity to navigate the open desert and tackle fast gravel surfaces against the region’s elite drivers, Østberg is set to make his third appearance at the event. Nevertheless, each driver is poised to contend with stiff competition from Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah, the event’s marquee figure and five-time Dakar Rally winner, who leads the pack in his Autotek Motorsport Volkswagen Polo GTI. Al-Attiyah, accompanied by co-driver Mathieu Baumel, aims to secure his home event victory for an unprecedented 18th time and seventh occasion overall.

The rally will follow a three-day format, comprising 13 timed special stages and covering a competitive distance of 199.95 kilometers within a total route of 622.49 kilometers.

On Thursday, February 1st, Sesks will participate in the pre-event press conference at 18:30 and partake in the ceremonial start at 19:00, both to be held at Lusail Boulevard for the first time. Subsequently, competitors will navigate a floodlit 3.27-kilometer super special stage at the LCSC Karting Academy from 20:00 onwards. Notably, two cars will simultaneously tackle the stage, commencing and concluding at opposite points of the circuit.

The rigorous northern deserts of Qatar will serve as the backdrop for two days of fervent competition, featuring two loops of three special stages scheduled for Friday, February 2nd, and Saturday, February 3rd. While one stage remains unaltered from 2023, another will be reversed, with four stages undergoing minor adjustments for safety and sporting considerations.

Drivers will traverse the two days in reverse to 2023, with the Waab Al Mashrab (15.32km), Al Waab (15.33km), and Umm Birka (21.38km) specials utilized twice on Friday, interspersed by a return to the Lusail Sports Arena for a midday service and regrouping session.