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Pierre-Louis Loubet and Loris Pascaud victorious

Updated: Feb 6

Saneem Payakkal and Musa Sherif win MERC4 class and finish 14th overall

Fabid Ahmer and Milen Cherian overcome challenges to finish 6th in MERC2 class and 12th overall


LUSAIL (Qatar): Pierre-Louis Loubet and Loris Pascaud delivered a master class performance on their desert debut and overcame late damper issues and a couple of time penalties for contact with stage surround fencing to secure a memorable victory at the Qatar International Rally.

Norway’s Mads Østberg and his Swedish co-driver Patrik Barth delivered a late charge over the afternoon loop of three short stages but missed out on the win by just 4.6 seconds. Loubet became only the second non-Arab driver to win the event outright. Sports Racing Technologies (SRT) duly earned a 1-2 finish with their Škoda Fabia RS Rally 2S. Abdullah Al-Rawahi and Al-Hmoud driving a Skoda Fabia Evo finished third. With a difference of 1min 36sec. Indian pair of Fabid Ahmer and Milen George supported by JK Tyre driving a Subaru finished 12th overall, while the Indian Pair of Saneem Payakkal and Musa Sherif supported by MRF Tyres driving a Ford Fiesta finished in 14 position.

Loubet said: “We can be very pleased with what we have done. It has been a great time, a great rally and I really enjoyed it. Thanks to everybody. We had a damper issue and we are happy to be at the end. It has been tough and very demanding.”

With a total time of 2hr 33min 41sec the pair from India Saneem Payakkal and Musa Sherif supported by MRF Tyres won the MERC4 class driving a 2WD Ford Fiesta, the lone participants in this class.  

After encountering a technical setback during the spectator stage on Thursday night, Fabid Ahmer and co-driver Milen Cherian supported by JK Tyre demonstrated resilience and skill to complete the Qatar International Rally. After restarting on Friday with a 10-minute penalty, the duo consistently secured top 3 positions in the MERC2 category throughout most stages, concluding with a commendable 6th place.

Fabid was unable to take a start on day Super special stage as he was yet rectifying the existing technical difficulties in the car and was awarded 10min penalties, but this did not put down his morale, they were running third till midway of the rally and later on due to brake issues they started losing time and dr+opping down the order and in the final stage, was given 30sec additional penalties for brushing against the  barrier, which put him down to sixth with a difference of 18min 53sec on the leader and just over 9min difference with the first runner-up. With 10min 30sec added penalties they had to settle for sixth finish in MERC4 category and 12th overall.

"Navigating through challenging terrains and competing against some of the world's best drivers, is a significant learning experience, particularly in handling a 4-wheel drive rally car. I thank my sponsors JK Tyres Industries Ltd the primary sponsor, additional backing came from Madre Engineering and Dudes of Dunes. Back home the team is geared up for another thrilling competition, building on the lessons learned and experiences gained in the Qatar International Rally." said Fabid Ahmer.


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