MERC: 2001 review and 2002 preview

The 2001 season is behind us now and we are into the up and coming 2002 season. The opening round of the Middle-East Rally Championship is the UAE International rally that will take place in January. But before the season is opening there...

The 2001 season is behind us now and we are into the up and coming 2002 season.

The opening round of the Middle-East Rally Championship is the UAE International rally that will take place in January.

But before the season is opening there are some great news around the Middle-east rally community.

After testing a Ford Puma Super-1600 in England, Lebanon driver Roger Feghali signed a deal with Astra Rally Team to race the Puma in the Junior World Championship for the 2002 season.

Feghali, who had great success last year in Catalunya Rally, came 2nd in group-N Mitsubishi Lancer Evo-6, is now aiming for the world title in his class and may be a big jump to the big class, like Loeb did this year.

From Oman, there are alot of rumors considering Hamed Al-Wahaibi's future, in the FIA press release last week he was on the line for a drive with the "new" production cup , group-N with a mitsubishi lancer, but rumors in the middle-east said that Hamed is about to make a big move and may be drive a ford in the middle-east rally championship, also another possibility for him is to stay with Subaru for one more year. only time will tell as Hamed keeps the cards close to his chest.

The Cyprus news of the championship is the new Hyundai accent WRC of Andreas Tseloftas, who is going to charge on the 13 time middle-east champion Bin-Sulayem. Tseloftas test the car early this year in England and now sign a deal to run the car in the middle-east rally championship.

Middle-east group-N champion Abdullah Al-Qassimi is going one step higher this year and will compete in the group-A class with his mitsubishi lancer Evo-6, that he run already in his national rally championship.

Lebanon Mishell Sallah is about to run his new Toyota Corolla WRC in the championship this year, in a Claudia Shiffer sponsorship. also from Lebanon J.P Nasrallah will have a Subaru Impreza WRC and he will rally it in the WRC Cyprus rally and his home Lebanon rally, the round that counts for the middle-east rally championship, the 2001 Lebanon rally championship was canceled due to some political problems in the A.T.C.L.

Based on rumors, Saudi Abdullah Bahashab is also about to come back to the Middle-east rally championship, with his Toyota Corolla WRC, which brings the WRC cars in the championship to 4-5 cars.

- duby miller

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