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The UAE's international motor sport calendar will be given an extra dimension next month with the launch in Abu Dhabi of a new round of the FIA Historic Rally Championship.

The inaugural Abu Dhabi Classic, taking place on January 11-13, sees the UAE capital entering a well-established rally championship series which is expanding from Europe into the Middle East for the first time.

The event has attracted 38 entries from Europe, some of the vehicles originating from the romantic days of motoring up to 60 years ago, and the final starting line-up is expected to be swelled by local entries.

The new event creates another milestone for the Automobile and Touring Club for the UAE, which already stages rounds of the FIA Cross Country Rally World Cup and the FIA Middle East Rally Championship.

The UAE Desert Challenge concludes the World Cup series next November and the Dubai International Rally rounds off the Middle East Championship a month later.

The Abu Dhabi Classic, meanwhile, takes over the January slot on the calendar from the UAE International Rally, which was run for the last time at the start of this year.

"We now have a full compliment of top-class international events for cross country vehicles, conventional rally cars, and historic vehicles," said Mohammad Bin Sulayem, President of the ATCUAE.

"It was a logical step to replace one of our two Middle East Championship rounds with a historic rally, and it means we now have a calendar of events offering something for everyone in rallying. The Historic Championship is very well established in Europe, and a new event in Abu Dhabi is a positive step for the series, and for motor sport in the Middle East as a whole."

Joining a year-long FIA Historic Rally Championship calendar which features events in Italy, Greece, Austria, Belgium, Germany and Finland, the Abu Dhabi Classic will be the Middle East's first fully-fledged event for historic vehicles.

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