Former FIA T2 World Cup champion Adel Abdulla has announced plans to tackle the 2019 FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Rallies, but the Qatari driver will not be taking part in the T2 category for series production cross-country vehicles this season. Instead, the rallying all-rounder intends to challenge for honours in the T3 category for Modified Cross-Country vehicles this season and will take part in this week’s opening round in Qatar with a Can-Am Maverick T3.
The five-day Manateq Qatar Cross-Country Rally is being organised by the Qatar Motor and Motorcycle Federation (QMMF) and marks the opening round of the revised FIA World Cup for the first time. It will precede further races in Abu Dhabi, Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan and Morocco.
Adel has teamed up with FN Speed Team, the leading Spanish SxS preparations company, and will be partnered in the new Can-Am by Spanish navigator Marc Serra for the first time in place of Frenchman Jean-Michel Polato, who has prior commitments for the opening round.
Adel Abdulla said: “This year the championship for cross-country and the Bajas have been separated by the FIA. I wanted to do something different this year and I chose the Can-Am and the T3 category with FN Speed. I think this is a good choice for me in 2019. This is the future of cross-country and I am happy to face more challenges and more competitors than even in T1. The entry list is strong.
“I am getting support from the QMMF. My team selected Marc Serra to be my co-driver. He comes from a motorbike background and knows a lot about the road book and how to work with the GPS. This is important. I know him personally as well. He is from Spain and my team is also Spanish. Jean-Michel has some private commitments for this race, but will continue with me during the season. We will do our best to get a strong result in my country.
“I am happy that the Qatar event is taking place now. The weather is fantastic at this time of year. We have some rain and it is not too hot compared to the older date at the end of April. It is a good time for this race.”
The Qatar event has attracted an impressive entry of 13 T3 Can-Am, Polaris and Yamaha derivatives and Adel Abdulla knows that it will not be easy to win the category across the challenging desert trails in the State of Qatar.
Reinaldo Varela tops the category in his Can-Am, the experienced Brazilian having already won the Side-by-Side (SxS) or T3 equivalent category at the Dakar Rally in 2018.
Other T3 entrants include the likes of Italy’s Michele Cinotto and Camelia Liparoti, Oman’s Abdullah Al-Zubair and fellow Qatari drivers Ahmed Al-Kuwari, Mohammed Al-Attiyah, Khalid Al-Mohannadi, Mubarak Al-Khelaifi and Rashed Al-Mohannadi, who are running with their own support from the QMMF.
The Manateq Qatar Cross-Country Rally gets underway with a ceremonial start on The Pearl-Qatar on February 21st and finishes on February 26th.