The MINI John Cooper Works rally car registered its first FIA win this season after Abdulaziz Al-Kuwari bagged the Qatar International Rally, which is the first round of the 2012 Middle East Rally Championship (MERC). Al Kuwari and his co-driver sibling Nasser Al-Kuwari, topped the event with a margin of two minutes and 24.9 seconds.
The win was significant as it gave the Mini JCW Super Production Car its first win on its first try and the Al-Kuwari brothers their first career MERC victory.
“It is a fantastic feeling to win this rally,” said Al-Kuwari, who became the 32nd driver to win at least one round of the MERC.
He added that although he has achieved success in national rallies in Qatar, the MERC event was the big one and it was a rally that he had been aiming to win. “The new car was fantastic,” Al-Kuwari described Prodrive-built and Tok Sport-run MINI SPC.
Prodrive chairman David Richards said it was particularly fitting that MINI’s first international win came in Qatar, as the event was his company’s first ever rally back in 1984. During that year, Prodrive’s Porsche 911 SC RS, driven by Saeed Al Hajri, won the inaugural FIA Middle East Rally Championship.
“Let’s hope Abdulaziz can do the same,” David Richards said. The MINI SPC is the regional rally specification of the MINI World Rally Car. Both cars are similar in specifications except that the SPC has a smaller engine restrictor of 30 mm (versus the original’s 33 mm) and a smaller rear wing.