MERC: Bin-Sulayem read for Lebanon Rally

Ford's Multiple Middle East Champion Ready For A Fight To The Finish As Morgan Brings Co-Driving Career To An End Mohammed Ben Sulayem is prepared for an all-out assault on the Rally of Lebanon in his Ford Focus World Rally Car, knowing that he...

Ford's Multiple Middle East Champion Ready For A Fight To The Finish As Morgan Brings Co-Driving Career To An End

Mohammed Ben Sulayem is prepared for an all-out assault on the Rally of Lebanon in his Ford Focus World Rally Car, knowing that he faces one of the most difficult examinations of his career over the next three days.

Italian tarmac specialist Pierro Liatti, French star Yves Loubet, Saudi Arabia's Abdullah Bakhashab, and Lebanon's Jean-Pierre Nasrallah and Roger Feghali, join Ben Sulayem for a World Rally Car super show when the fifth round of this year's FIA Middle East Championship gets under way in Beirut tomorrow night.

"I can't remember seeing such a strong line-up for a Middle East Championship rally - this has all the makings of a great event,^Ô the Arab World's top driver said at the official Ford Middle East Rally Team news conference at the Holiday Inn Martinez, Beirut, today.

"We all know how good Liatti is on tarmac, and he must start as the favourite. I'm sure Abdullah has learnt a lot from competing on the World Championship circuit, and he could be challenging hard.

"Loubet is very experienced and capable, and Jean-Pierre and Roger will be giving everything they've got to try and give Lebanon a win." Added Ben Sulayem: "They're all capable of winning, but once the rally starts it's all down to who is most committed on the special stages. The pace is going to be very fast, and there's going to be no let up from start to finish. But I'm ready for that."

Also ready for one of the biggest challenges of his 26-year co-driving career is Ronan Morgan, who partners Ben Sulayem in the Ford Focus WRC for the last time before retiring from competition. "This is a big one, and I certainly didn't come here to finish second," said Morgan.

Heading a 36-car line-up, Ben Sulayem gives a Middle East debut to a new lighter version of the Ford Focus WRC, brought in for Lebanon only, and says: "This is the first real tarmac car I've ever driven in Lebanon. The cars in previous years have basically been built for gravel events, and modified just for this rally."

Robert Boustany, general manager of Boustany Dahdah Automobiles, the Ford, Lincoln, and Mercury dealer in Lebanon, told the news conference: " Mohammed and Ronan start their last event together knowing that they face very tough competition. We're hoping that another Rally of Lebanon victory lies ahead for the Ford Focus World Rally Car, and for the most successful driver / co-driver partnership in the sport. We're sorry to be losing Ronan, who has made a major contribution to Ford's success in Middle East rallying. But we're certain that Ford will continue to be successful in the Middle East Rally Championship.

Sue Nigoghossian, Manager, Public Affairs, Ford Middle East and North Africa, said: "Mohammed and Ronan are eager to seal their partnership with another victory, and I know they're just as determined to take Ford one step closer to a fifth Middle East manufacturers' championship. That would be a nice way to mark the 100th anniversary of Ford's debut in motorsports. Mohammed has already paid tribute to Ronan, but I'd like to add Ford's thanks, appreciation, and congratulations to him on a superb co-driving career."

* - you can follow on-line coverge of the LEBANON RALLY at the great motor-sport web-site : http://www.lbcar.com

-duby miller

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About this article
Series Other rally , WRC
Drivers Yves Loubet , Ronan Morgan