DOHA (QATAR): South Racing has entered cars for Germany’s Jürgen Schröder and Spain’s Fernando Alvarez in the Qatar Cross-Country Rally, round four of the FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Rallies, taking place on April 17-22.
Schröder and his son Maximilian will crew a Nissan Navara, while Alvarez and Argentinean navigator Luciano Gennoni wheel out a Toyota Hilux. Neither driver has tackled the five-day Qatar event before, even though it has been a round of the FIA World Cup since 2012.
Formerly known as the Sealine Cross-Country Rally, the event is organised by the Qatar Motor and Motorcycle Federation (QMMF) and has built up a reputation as being one of the toughest events in the calendar in terms of difficult navigation and varied desert terrain. It is now based at the Losail International Circuit, north of Doha, although the competitive action covers the length and breadth of the gas-rich state and passes through a broad range of desert landscapes.
Schröder survived the intense heat and daunting sand dunes of the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge earlier this month and reached the finish in a creditable 23rd overall, despite two days of delays. The German is relishing the prospect of the Qatar event and feels that the nature of the terrain will be more suited to his driving style, even though race officials are expecting temperatures to hover around the high thirties and low forties Centigrade for much of the coming week.
Alvarez is competing in his first event of the season with South Racing. He and Gennoni finished 13th overall at last year’s Baja Portalegre in Portugal and are also hoping to tackle rounds of the FIA World Cup in Italy, Spain, Morocco and Portugal later this year.
South Racing achieved an excellent eighth overall at the Qatar event last year with the Chilean driver Hernan Garces and his navigator Juan Pablo Latrach.
“Fernando is starting his campaign with us in the Toyota in Qatar and is looking for a good result,” said South Racing’s managing director Scott Abraham. “He was fighting inside the top 10 in Portugal last year and also featured well in Baja Spain to finish eighth with Pablo Monasterolo. It’s his first time in Qatar.
“Jürgen continues his World Cup challenge. It’s also his first time in Qatar and he’s looking for a strong result after his first experience in Abu Dhabi a week or so ago. I am sure that he can repeat the top 10 finish he earned in Morocco last year.”
This year’s Qatar Cross-Country Rally starts with a timed super special stage within the confines of the Losail motocross facility on Tuesday (April 18) and then heads into the desert for four selective sections on April 19-22. There will be around 1,374km timed against the clock in a route of just under 2,000km.