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French Connection: Abu Dhabi Returns to WRC in New Partnership with Record-Breaking Citroën Racing

ABU DHABI, UAE, December 6, 2012 /PRNewswire/ --

All-New Citroën Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team Unveiled; Sheikh Khalid Al Qassimi Back in WRC with Abu Dhabi Total Citroën World Rally Team; Abu Dhabi Racing to Pilot Emirate's International Motorsport Ambitions

Abu Dhabi, one of seven emirates that make up the United Arab Emirates and home of the country's capital city, has agreed an historic partnership with nine-time World Rally Championship (WRC) winning manufacturer, Citroën Racing, to bolster the emirate's presence in global motorsport.

     (Photo: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20121206/582167 )

The three-year partnership between Citroën Racing and the newly-created Abu Dhabi Racing (ADR) - an Abu Dhabi-based company working on a number of expansive professional and grassroots motorsport initiatives - will see the two full-works manufacturer teams, Citroën Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team and the Abu Dhabi Total Citroën World Rally Team, participate in the WRC as of next season's opening round in Monte Carlo, running January 18-20. Both teams and all registered drivers in the new Citroën -Abu Dhabi stable will be eligible to score manufacturers' points.

"In Abu Dhabi, we have a long-term partner that will preserve Citroën's position at the summit of global rallying," said Yves Matton, Director of Citroën Racing and Team Principal of Citroën Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team. "Over the last decade, the team has enjoyed monumental success. Vitally, we now have a formidable partner that shares our ambition to continue setting the pace in the WRC and international off-road motorsport."

As part of the agreement, the UAE's most successful international rally driver in terms of WRC points, Sheikh Khalid All Qassimi is back in the WRC next year. Al Qassimi will contest eight WRC rounds for Abu Dhabi Total Citroën World Rally Teamin theall-new Abu Dhabi-branded DS3 WRC, which was unveiled today at the team's international launch at Monte Carlo Beach Club Saadiyat, Abu Dhabi.

On WRC rounds where nine-time world champion, Sebastien Loeb, is participating, the legendary Frenchman will drive for Citroën Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team alongside Finland's Mikko Hirvonen, with Spain's Dani Sordojoining Al Qassimi in the Abu Dhabi Total Citroën World Rally Team. When Loeb, who is contesting a shortened schedule next season, is not in action, Sordo will pilotthe second manufacturers' points-scoring car for Citroën Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team.

Additionally, the all-new Abu Dhabi Total Citroën World Rally Team will contest the 2013 Middle East Rally Championship (MERC) - the first-time in history a full WRC works team has participated in the region's premier off-road motorsport series - with Al Qassimi scheduled to complete the series' entire calendar.

"Rallying is in Abu Dhabi's soul and this partnership reflects the vision of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, to see the emirate back at the sport's elite level," said Al Qassimi.

"It also begins a long-term relationship that we hope will foster increased Emirati participation in various global motorsport series - including off-road and circuit-based disciplines. We could not have partnered a more professional and ambitious manufacturer than Citroën," added Al Qassimi, who counts 45 WRC starts to his name and is also ADR Chairman.

Via strategic relationships with prominent Abu Dhabi-based motorsport stakeholders - including Abu Dhabi Motorsport Management (ADMM), Yas Marina Circuit and Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority (TCA Abu Dhabi) - ADR has been created to dually assist the promotion of Abu Dhabi as a world-class destination and provide the next crop of Emirati motorsport drivers with viable avenues for professional participation.

With ADR responsible for mining and developing leading domestic talent, the company's supporting partners will provide strategic assistance across a number of key areas, including infrastructure, equipment, event management, marketing, communications and international promotions. As part of the ADR-Citroën Racing agreement, TCA Abu Dhabi will undertake as many as five on-the-ground destination promotions in key source markets where WRC rounds take place.

"Abu Dhabi has a well-documented history in the WRC - a global motorsport series which has helped position the emirate in front of millions of international spectators and television viewers," said Faisal Al Sheikh, Events Manager, TCA Abu Dhabi. "The benefits to the destination are tremendous and the emirate's WRC adventure with the great champions of Citroën will significantly enhance Abu Dhabi's footprint in the international motorsport arena."

In addition to the high-profile WRC alliance, Citroën has committed to provide a dedicated works car for Al Qassimi's MERC campaign and two additional R3MERC cars for ADR's grassroots initiatives in domestic and regional rally series. The quartet of lower-spec R3s will feature Yas Marina Circuit and ADR branding.

Over coming weeks and months, extensive testing and tutelage sessions will be conducted with scores of Emirati hopefuls, after which Al Qassimi and the ADR board - which also includes Khalid Al Qubaisi, the Porsche Supercup series driver, and Khalid Bin Shaiban, ADMM Vice Chairman - will devise a shortlist of drivers and plot the best route forward for those showing the most potential.

Notes to Editors:

A rights-free VNR from today's launch can be downloaded from http://www.citroen-wrc.com

Additional Information:

About Abu Dhabi: Abu Dhabi, the largest and wealthiest of seven emirates that make up the United Arab Emirates, is one of the world's foremost emerging tourism destinations.

Blessed by a rich, geographically diverse landscape, the emirate is made up of more than 200 natural islands, covering in excess of 400 kilometres of pristine coastline. With a vibrant, cosmopolitan capital city, Abu Dhabi's inland regions comprise vast swathes of serene, tranquil desert and idyllic oasis towns.

A genuine destination of distinction where preservation of culture, heritage and the environment are pillars of a long-term sustainability agenda, Abu Dhabi's diverse natural offerings are complemented by a world-class major events, exhibitions and international conferences schedule that is helping position the emirate on global leisure, business and sporting maps.

Events are a core component in Abu Dhabi realising its objective of attracting 2.9 million hotel guests to the emirate by 2015 and the strategy has proven highly successful to date - Abu Dhabi is on-track to beat its hotel guest target of 2.1 million in 2012.

Tourism is one of the Government of Abu Dhabi's key avenues for economic diversification and the industry's long-term development is laid out in an ambitious 2030 plan which ultimately hopes to attract 7.9 million hotel guests, staying in 80,000 rooms, by 2030 end.

About Abu Dhabi Racing: Abu Dhabi Racing (ADR) is an Abu Dhabi-based company working on a number of initiatives designed to bolster the emirate's presence in global motorsport.

In its first major international partnership, ADR has agreed a three-year partnership with nine-time World Rally Championship-winning manufacturers, Citroën Racing, to create the new three-car Citroën Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team that will participate in the 2013 WRC season.

Additionally, the all-new Abu Dhabi Citroën World Rally Team will also contest the 2013 Middle East Rally Championship (MERC) - the first-time in history a full works team has participated in the MERC.

Via strategic relationships with Abu Dhabi-based motorsport stakeholders - including Abu Dhabi Motorsport Management (ADMM), Yas Marina Circuit and Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority (TCA Abu Dhabi) - ADR's primary objective is to increase Emirati participation in various global motorsport series, including off-road and circuit-based disciplines.

ADR is working to secure additional, strategic partnerships to dually promote the destination of Abu Dhabi and provide the next crop of Emirati motorsport drivers with viable avenues for professional participation.

ADR is also pursuing local, regional and international sponsorship deals to assist the delivery of its multi-pillared vision and objectives.

To aid ADR in the mining and development of leading domestic talent, the company's supporting partners will provide strategic assistance across a number of key areas, including infrastructure, equipment, event management, marketing, communications and international promotions.

The ADR board features two active race drivers: Sheikh Khalid Al Qassimi and Khalid Al Qubaisi. Al Qassimi, the ADR Chairman, will pilot the third Citroën  Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team car in next year's WRC season, while Al Qubaisi has international experience in the Porsche Supercup series and was part of a four-driver 'Abu Dhabi by Black Falcon' team which won this year's Dubai 24 Hour race. The final ADR board member is Khalid Bin Shaiban, Vice Chairman, ADMM.

About Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority: Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority (TCA Abu Dhabi) conserves and promotes the heritage and culture of Abu Dhabi emirate and leverages them in the development of a world-class, sustainable destination of distinction which enriches the lives of visitors and residents alike.

The authority manages the emirate's tourism sector and markets the destination internationally through a wide range of activities aimed at attracting visitors and investment. Its policies, plans and programmes relate to the preservation of heritage and culture, including protecting archaeological and historical sites and to developing museums, including the Louvre Abu Dhabi, Zayed National Museum and Guggenheim Abu Dhabi.

TCA Abu Dhabi supports intellectual and artistic activities and cultural events to nurture a rich cultural environment and honour the emirate's heritage. A key authority role is to create synergy in the destination's development through close co-ordination with its wide-ranging stakeholder base.

Contact: Kamal Zain, MCS Action, [email protected], Ph: +971(0)567-44-91-49 AND Euan Megson, Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority, [email protected], Ph: +971(0)502-45-59-02

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