Michel Saleh believes this weekend's Dubai International Rally could be decided by a single mistake as the region's top drivers all go flat out for victory in the event. The veteran UAE-based Lebanese driver believes the pressure will be firmly on Qatar's Nasser al Attiyah as he tries for his second successive win in Dubai, having already clinched this year's FIA Middle East Rally Championship title.
Saleh and City of Arabia teammate Sheikh Suhail Al Maktoum are among a cluster of drivers also including the UAE's Sheikh Khalid al Qassimi and Rashid sl Ketbi, and Qatar's Misfer al Marri, who will be waiting to pounce on any slip-up by Attiyah. "We're not thinking about points any more - everybody is going for a win," said Saleh, who takes a Subaru into the seventh and final round of the FIA regional series which gets under way on Friday morning.
"One little mistake could be crucial. A bit of bad luck and you're out. "This is a very nice rally, but it's not an easy event." Saleh, sixth in the championship, feels that if Attiyah can avoid mistakes or any mechanical misfortunes he could prove unbeatable. And that is despite the challenge of the World Rally Championship-hardened Qassimi, who would love to win on his return to the Middle East.
"Khalid has been away from the region all year, and he's been driving a World Rally Car which is very different from the Group N cars we drive here, so Nasser has an advantage," he said. After scrutineering on Thursday, the first leg of the Dubai International Rally will see four special stages in the Madam and Hatta areas. These will be followed by five more stages on Saturday in the Filli area ahead of the finish on the corniche at Al Mamzar.