We keep walking … a decade later
In 2006 Mr. Jacques Salha and Mr. Gaby Kreiker reached out to me and asked me if I can hold the responsibility being the organising committee chairman of the Rally of Lebanon.
Needless to say, two years back, in 2004, we were still World Rally Championship (WRC) candidates, but in 2005 Lebanon was hit by tragic events that led to political turmoil and social instability. Furthermore, and due to the FIA ban on tobacco in motorsports, the rally lost its main sponsor for many years “Marlboro” when M/s Philip Morris decided to hold their patronage of sports events.
Then, a dream team was formed out of well experienced people who took the heavy burden on their shoulders and vowed to boost the event and give it an added value. This team is still effectively performing the task, after being asked so by Mr. Imad Lahoud in 2013.
So as our 11th year is about to be wrapped up, let us have a round up on some facts that happened in the past decade.
In 2006, the rally was run simultaneously with the Football World Cup. The official start commenced with a duel track super special stage that was run under the lights of Camille Chamoun Cité Sportive. The present spectators were estimated at 5000.
After being rescheduled to November, the rally was run in 2007 under heavy rain weather with one of the most interesting battles that ended with Roger Feghali being the winner.
Sitting in the hot seat alongside Roger Feghali, 2008 marked the first presence and win of Giovanni Bernacchini in the Middle East Rally Championship.
2009 the rally was won by 10:28.3 minutes ahead of the runner ups; thus setting a record in the Rally of Lebanon statistics.
Year 2010 was eventful. Nocturnal special stages were reintroduced after 20 years. Moreover, Skoda Fabia S2000 celebrated its 1st international win, while on it Mr. Nabil Njeim celebrated in setting up the record for co-drivers by winning the rally for the 5th time.
Despite winning nine out of fourteen available special stages, Nasser Saleh Al- Attiah came second in 2011 edition, and Joseph Matar became the first co-driver to win the rally with two different drivers.
While Roger Feghali won the event for the tenth time, Abdo Feghali in 2012 secured the second step on the podium for the fifth time, and was nicknamed by the press the Rally of Lebanon “Poulidor”, in reference to the French cyclist Raymond Poulidor. The Qatari, Abdulaziz Al-Kuwari reached 3rd overall, the first podium for him in the Rally of Lebanon.
In 2013, the used common weapon for the traditional contenders, Nasser Al- Attiah and Roger Feghali, was the Ford Fiesta S2000 1.6T, better known as RRC. Roger Feghali won for the eleventh time, his tenth consecutive.
Everyone was astonished in 2014 after Roger and Abdo Feghali had accidents and withdrew in section 2. This has paved the road for Nicolas Amiouni to win his maiden and only international rally.
Nasser Saleh Al-Attiah went off course on SS 3 in 2015, and Roger Feghali easily won the rally with his co-driver Joseph Matar equalising the five wins record of Nabil Njeim.
Well, in these past ten years two Lebanese drivers dominated the event.
This year, eleven challenging special stages with slippery tarmac will once again feature the controversy between man and machine which defies all kinds of rallying definitions.
The 39th Rally of Lebanon will commence with a Ceremonial Start that will be held at 19:30hrs on Thursday, September 1st, 2016, from the main venue in the ATCL – Kaslik, Jounieh. On Friday, September 2nd, 2016, a 2.56kms “Head to Head” Super Special Stage will be held in RPM Karting Circuit in Mtein at 17:30hrs.
The event is planned with the distinctive concept of compact configuration. The 209kms of special stages, one Service Park positioned in Jounieh, two Remote Refuelling Zones located in Yarita and in Mtein, and altitudes varying from 200 metres to 1200 metres, makes the 39th Rally of Lebanon the most demanding event in the Middle East Rally Championship.
The prestigious premises of the Automobile and Touring Club of Lebanon will host once again the rally headquarters, the rally control, and the media centre.
Yet, as others did before, you cannot but fall in love with it.
In the name of the Organising Committee, I thank all those who backed us, be it physically or morally, our sponsors among many others as well as the Automobile and Touring Club of Lebanon.
To all who volunteered for the success of the event, I pay tribute and I say “THANK YOU”.
“WELCOME ALL”, I wish you a secure, safe and Rally! Go ahead push the envelope and enjoy the thrilling action.
Fady Y. Aoun
Fady Y. Aoun
Organising Committee – Chairman
39th Rally of Lebanon