Al-Attiyah, who scored his best WRC finish to date in Portugal earlier this season with fourth place before winning a bronze medal in the skeet shooting section of the London 2012 Olympics, is on course to become Middle East champion for an eighth time aboard his Autotek Motorsport Ford Fiesta RRC.
The Qatari leads the standings on 68 points with Abulaziz Alkuwari next up on 52 points. In order to prevent Al-Attiyah from clinching the overall spoils, Alkuwari needs to finish in the top two and hope that Al-Attiyah completes the event outside of the top six.
There was a scare for Al-Attiyah earlier this week when his Fiesta caught fire due to a faulty battery. Although the fire was quickly contained, replacement parts had to be flown in from the United Kingdom to enable repairs to be carried out.
Meanwhile, in an effort to boost his chances, Alkuwari, a point-scorer in the world championship this season, is switching from his regular MINI John Cooper Works S2000 to the latest specification of the Prodrive-built John Cooper Works WRC Jarkko Nikara drove to fifth position on RallyRACC-Rally de Espana earlier this month, albeit converted to the S2000 regulations.
“We have had great success in the Middle East championship over the years and it would be great to win it with our MINI for the first time,” said Prodrive’s Graham Prew. “Providing Abdulaziz with the latest spec car could make the difference.”
The Dubai International Rally features six stages today (Friday) and a further six on Saturday.