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Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority (ADTA) has announced that a new international motorsport event - Rally Abu Dhabi - will debut in the emirate next year as a World Rally Championship (WRC) candidature event with the aim of becoming an official WRC event in 2011 subject to the inaugural rally’s success.
 
The announcement follows the registration of Rally Abu Dhabi as a WRC candidate event on the 2010 FIA international calendar. The bid has been initiated and sponsored by ADTA, and officially tabled by the Automobile Touring Club UAE (ATCUAE), the UAE’s national sporting authority on motorsports.
 
“This is a major leap forward in Abu Dhabi’s motor sport ambitions,” said His Excellency Sheikh Sultan Bin Tahnoon Al Nahyan, Chairman, ADTA. “We are confident we have the right experience, pedigree, determination and skills to deliver a unique and highly successful round of the WRC championship and that our 2011 ambitions can be fully realized.”
 
The introduction of Rally Abu Dhabi charts another significant milestone for motorsports in Abu Dhabi, coming shortly after the successful inauguration of the Formula 1™Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, and ahead of what will be an exciting year for ADTA‘s ever-expanding events portfolio. Rally Abu Dhabi will complement ADTA‘s other major motorsport event – the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge to be held March 25 to April 1 – in strengthening the emirate‘s motorsport and major events credentials.
 
Rally Abu Dhabi 2010 also adds a further feather in the cap for the ADTA’s active involvement in WRC. Since 2007, the authority has been both the WRC’s Official Destination Partner and a principal partner of the BP Ford Abu Dhabi team within the series.
 
“WRC is the pinnacle competition in rally motorsports, with ADTA leveraging on the championship‘s considerable fan base to promulgate its destination brand and awareness on a global scale. Involvement in the WRC has delivered significant returns for our tourism mandate taking Abu Dhabi’s name and exposing its proposition to audiences as far apart as the icy roads of Sweden to the dusty tracks of Australia,” said Ahmed Hussein, Deputy Director General, ADTA.
 
Since 2008, as part of its community outreach objective and as a key driver in the emirate‘s motorsports hub ambitions, ADTA has also pioneered a junior rally team, comprising three Emirati youth, which is based on the WRC platform.
 
Whilst the specific dates for Rally Abu Dhabi 2010 will only be confirmed in March, ADTA has already solicited strong domestic and international support to ensure the event‘s successful staging. Both the Automobile Touring Club of the UAE (ATCUAE) and Abu Dhabi Motorsports Management (ADMM) have pledged their involvement in the event‘s organisation and promotion. ATCUAE has already agreed to dedicate a professional team with a strong and successful WRC track record to deliver the highest standard of organisation for the event.
 
‘It is a massive sporting and management challenge for us and ADTA ahead to secure WRC status,” said ATCUAE President Mohammed Ben Sulayem who is also an FIA Vice President. ‘’While the international goodwill is high for our event the FIA observation process is very rigorous and demanding so we must aim very high to pass the inspection process and secure WRC status.”
 
Meanwhile, the WRC and International Sportworld Communicators (ISC), global promoter of the WRC, have pledged to support Rally Abu Dhabi with their experience and expertise.
 
"As Championship Promoter we welcome the opportunity to expand the grass roots appeal of our sport into new territories. Abu Dhabi is fast becoming a centre of excellence for building a culture of motorsport which showcases both the unique character of the emirate and the exciting aspirations of the Middle East. We look forward to seeing the new dimensions which Abu Dhabi can undoubtedly offer the sport of rallying and, potentially, WRC as whole," said Simon Long, CEO, ISC.
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