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Al-Attiyah/Baumel and Al-Rawahi/Al-Hmoud awarded joint FIA MERC titles for 2023

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Following a dead heat after the final round in Cyprus, the FIA has decided that the 2023 FIA Middle East Rally Championship’s (MERC) Drivers’ and Co-drivers’ titles will be jointly awarded to Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah/Mathieu Baumel and Abdullah Al-Rawahi/Ata Al-Hmoud. The awards will be presented at the FIA’s official Prize Giving in Baku on December 8, 2023.

The two crews were tied on 108 points apiece after five rounds of the championship in Oman, Qatar, Jordan, Lebanon and Cyprus and both teams earned two wins, a pair of second-placed finishes and had one retirement.

The FIA Regional Rally Sporting Regulations stipulate that in the event of such a tie, the FIA itself will decide the winner and decide between any tying drivers and co-drivers, on the basis of whatever considerations it deems appropriate.

A six-man committee consisting of Sheikh Abdullah Al-Khalifa (Vice-President for Sport – Middle East), Jarmo Mahonen (President of the Rally Commission), Petter Solberg (Vice-President of the Drivers’ Commission), and former WRC driver and current ERC champion Hayden Paddon, supported by Jérôme Roussel and Andrew Wheatley from the FIA Rally Department, decided to award the titles jointly in the absence of clear regulations and insufficient criteria to decide otherwise.

Suggestions were put to the Rally Commission to amend the 2024 Regional Rally Sporting Regulations to prevent such an occurrence happening again.

The Rally Commission has now approved the option put forward by both Solberg and Paddon, whereby the deciding factor should be the result of the last round of the championship, then the penultimate round and so on. This will be put to the World Motor Sports Council in December.

This is the first time in the history of the MERC where a title has been awarded jointly. Al-Rawahi - who secured wins in Oman and Jordan - will collect a first ever Drivers’ Championship.

Al-Attiyah won his home rally in Qatar and the final round in Cyprus and has now earned a record-breaking 19 regional MERC titles. The history-making Qatari will collect an unprecedented three trophies in Baku. The five-time Dakar Rally winner also won the overall drivers’ titles in the 2023 FIA World Rally-Raid Championship (W2RC) and the 2023 FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Bajas.