The UAE Rally Team represented by Yayha al Helai and Khaled al Kendi are in Portugal this week preparing for the 2009 Transiberico Rally, the final round of the FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Rallies. The event starts in Estoril on Thursday, and concludes on Sunday. Al Helai is bidding to become the second UAE driver to win the FIA World Cup in his Nissan Patrol, prepared by Powertec Performance Engineering.
He holds second place overall in the FIA T2 Production category. He is four points behind the Russian Artem Varentsov, and could complete a winning double in Portugal. Al Helai is a veteran of numerous UAE Desert Challenge events. He has finished second overall on the region's most punishing long-distance rally. The Emirati lies third in the points' standings and nine points behind Frenchman Guerlain Chicherit from the BMW team.
Chicherit won this year's Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge. He scored points in the Tunisian round of the series and starts as the favourite to give the X-raid team a second successive title. Al Helai aims to follow Khalifa al Mutawei's footsteps by bringing the world title back to the UAE. "I know it will not be easy to win the race and take more points than the BMW, but the team at Powertec have done a great job with the car and we are all raring to go," said al Helai.
The Powertec spokesman, Ian Davies, confirmed that nothing has been left to chance in their preparations for the Transiberico event, which runs for four days over rural terrain in Portugal and western Spain. "Yayha is a very talented driver and he is looking forward to the challenge," said Davies. "We flew the Nissan out to Portugal in good time and will be focused in our preparations over the coming days, for the World Cup and the T2 title."