Qatar set to host first night World Touring Car Championship

Published November 25th, 2015 - 10:45 GMT

Qatar's inaugural FIA World Touring Car Championship (WTCC) , 'Race of Qatar' starting at Lusail International Circuit Friday, will be unique as it will be the championship’s first night race and rally ace Nasser Saleh Al Attiyah will make his debut in the closing round of the world event.

Speaking to journalists at the Qatar Motor and Motorcycle Federation (QMMF) headquarters Wednesday evening, FIA Vice President and QMMF President Nasser Khalifa Al Attiyah said, "This event presents Qatar a great opportunity since this is the first time FIA WTCC is being held in the Middle East, and under floodlights.

"This will of the biggest motorsport events in Qatar. This will help build interest and culture of WTCC here. Qatar will benefit immensely since it will encourage all stakeholders of this sport like champion drivers and sponsors to come to Qatar." Five drivers Nasser Saleh Al Attiyah, Jose Maria Lopez, Mehdi Bennani, Rob Huff, Norbert Michelisz and Head of Eurosport Events Francois Ribeiro also spoke about their prospects and the event.

Explaining why Qatar was selected for the first night race, Ribeiro said, "The quality of Lusail International Circuit infrastructure is first class and our (with QMMF) goals of bringing top WTCC names here and inspire youngsters achieve their dreams of becoming pro-drivers." It is fitting, that the Middle East's most famous motorsport ambassador Nasser Saleh Al Attiyah will be tackling two races, he said and added, "I hope the weather gets better by Friday so that we can see real good competition." 

Commenting on organising the race under floodlights, QMMF President Al Attiyah said, "It is not easy to shift from day light events to night time. We had to do a lot of arrangements and consider the concerns of television broadcasters too on how then night time would affect the quality of live broadcast." On Tuesday evening, Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah had a trial run in his Chevrolet Campos Racing RML Cruze TC1 World Touring Car for the first time at the Lusail. 

"It was a very good test and a very good experience," said the double Dakar Rally winner. "I am quite happy as it is my first time I drive a touring car but it is good for me that I am at home and I know the circuit very well. 

"I think I have adapted very fast to the car and I will do the maximum to get the better result in my home race. The car is very good and all the team is great, trying to support me to the maximum. Many thanks also to QMMF President, Mr Nasser Khalifa Al Attiyah, to give me this chance to be here, at the final of the WTCC." Race of Qatar has all the trappings of a grand 2015 season finale at Lusail. From the starting list of more than ten nationalities, six drivers have won races in the earlier rounds, four have taken pole positions and seven has set fastest race laps. 

Motorsport fans will eagerly watch the battle for the runner-up spot at Lusail. Just five points separate French Citroen pair Sebastien Loeb and Yvan Muller in the fight to finish runner-up in the final WTCC standings. 

The Yokohama Drivers’ Trophy for independent racers is also in focus at Lusail with Norbert Michelisz seven points ahead of season-long rival Mehdi Bennani, the only Arabian driver to have won in the WTCC.

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