SULAYEM EARNS ROYAL PRAISE FOR HELPING JORDAN WIN PLACE IN WORLD RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP EATC President says Kingdom's WRC breakthrough is a boost for regional motor sport and an "awakening" for those who said it could not happen Dubai, UAE,...
SULAYEM EARNS ROYAL PRAISE FOR HELPING JORDAN WIN PLACE IN WORLD RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP
EATC President says Kingdom's WRC breakthrough is a boost for regional motor sport and an "awakening" for those who said it could not happen
Dubai, UAE, 28th May 2007: Mohammed Ben Sulayem has received a big tribute from Prince Feisal Al Hussein, Chairman of Jordan Motorsport, for the supporting role he played in helping the Jordan Rally win a place in the FIA World Rally Championship from next year.
"Mohammed is an iconic figure for Middle East motor sport so for him to show his support of the Jordan Rally was a huge boost to us all," said Prince Feisal. "He was always popular in Jordan during his days as the region's top driver and even now as an ambassador for motor sport he creates a big media buzz whenever he attends events here."
Sulayem, President of the Emirates Automobile and Touring Club, attended the recent Jordan Rally 2007 as a guest of Prince Feisal. He says royal backing for rallying has been a crucial factor, and he believes the event has a long-term future in the FIA World Rally Championship
"You can't take the sport to the top level unless you have a genuine passion for it, and you can't force people to love rallying," he said. "Jordan inherited its love of the sport from King Hussein, whose passion for rallying is shared by King Abdullah and Prince Feisal."
"There was a tremendous desire in Jordan to take the rally into the World Championship. Prince Feisal and his team have worked very hard, and that desire will ensure the rally goes from strength to strength."
Sulayem, the 14-times former FIA Middle East champion, is the most successful driver in the history of the Jordan Rally, having won it 12 times between 1984 and 2002.
Jordan will become the first Arab country to host a round of the FIA World Rally Championship next April, and Sulayem says this is a major boost for Middle East motor sport, and an awakening for those who thought the region could not host world championship events.
"Some people in the sport said we would never have Formula One racing or WRC events here, but they have been proved wrong," said the EATC President, who established the UAE Desert Challenge as the Middle East's first world championship motor sport event.
"The Desert Challenge was the start in cross country rallying for cars, and then bikes. Since then we have seen Bahrain become established in Formula One, with Abu Dhabi to follow with its own Grand Prix from 2009.
"We have world championship bike racing with the Qatar Moto GP, and now the WRC is on its way to Jordan. So the Middle East has built a solid base for world championship motor sport, and more could follow."