Hey Vicks, this is GREAT NEWS man!
Taking the plunge and telling everyone is the scariest part by far- for me anyway. The rest was then just hard work - and a lot of fun too!
You're doing it the right way. Forget about the big D for now anyway. Maybe by the time we get to do it there will be something tougher to enter that wont break the bank.
About the bike: I would say go for the rally prepped bike, even though your heart likes the berg more. Going this route means you will have enough money for another rally if you still like rally after your first one... Besides, it looks like there is a lot of bling on that bike already that you have not factored in.
Which rally to start navigating on?
Given where you are, I would say the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge is the one to start. Its relatively cheap, well attended and professionally organised. Beside you are there - that is a MAJOR advantage. If I can scrape some money together before then, I hope to make it too. Alternatively the Qatar rally is another one close by to look at.
If you don't know Al Wilkinson who is in AD, I can get you in touch with him. He finished his first one last year, and loved it. You may even be able to pick up a road book from him and do one stage with friends if you're lucky.
If you have not already done this, read my Sertoes report and rally prep threads (in my sig line) for a lot of other tips & ideas on what to consider and how to prepare (or not!).
Keep us posted on your progress!