MERC: Bakhashab launches his 2003 rally program

Saudi-born rally champion and Marlboro driver sponsored by Power Horse Abdullah Bakhashab inaugurated his 2003 rally program during a dazzling launch event in Dubai that highlighted his participation in the MERC in a Peugeot 206 World Rally ...

Saudi-born rally champion and Marlboro driver sponsored by Power Horse Abdullah Bakhashab inaugurated his 2003 rally program during a dazzling launch event in Dubai that highlighted his participation in the MERC in a Peugeot 206 World Rally Car.

Held at the elegant Emirates Towers hotel, the event featured the unveiling of Bakhashab's new race vehicle, a Peugeot 206 World Rally Car, in a presentation enhanced by a dramatic sound and light show. He also discussed his joining the Peugeot team and his 2003 schedule. Those attending the impressive event included, members of the Peugeot team, Bakhashab's co-driver Bobby Willis, media representatives, invitees from the racing industry, Philip Morris officials and invited guests.

"I would like to thank God for the successes I have achieved as a driver up to this point. I also owe thanks to the media and my sponsors for their continued support and without whom I could not have been a success," Bakhashab said during his speech at the launch.

"This year marks a major change for me with my joining the Peugeot team, which has recorded an impressive string of victories in the past several years. I am also very excited to be driving the Peugeot 206 WRC, which is a tremendous driving machine and has proved itself to be a world champion car. With a new team and a new car, God willing, this year will be a successful year.

The Peugeot 206 WRC team has amassed a tremendous winning record over the past three years, collecting the World Manufacturers' title in 2000, 2001 and 2002, while Peugeot driver Marcus Gronh0x0b2d took his second World Drivers' crown in 2002 following his success in 2000. Also on the Peugeot team is Richard Burns, who won the Drivers' title in 2001.

Last year, the Peugeot 206 WRC earned nine WRC one-two finishes, a new outright record, an achievement attributed to a combination of the car's reliability record and potential on sprint events. Bakhashab, who won the MERC Group "A" championship in 1995 and the Group "N" title in both 1993 and 1994, sponsored by Power Horse, will participate in at least five rounds of this year's Middle East Rally Championship and possibly one event in the World Rally Championship.

Bakhashab is hoping to improve on his 2002 season and return to the successes of the 1990s. Last year he finished second at the Bahrain and Jordan rallies and collected 12 points during the year to finish fifth in the overall MERC standings. He had bad luck with his cars throughout the year, with mechanical failures forcing him to withdraw from the Syria, Lebanon and Qatar rallies.

-duby miller

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Series Other rally
Drivers Richard Burns , Bobby Willis , Philip Morris