MERC: Ben Sulayem takes Ford backing to Syria rally

Arab World's Top Driver Will Defend Syrian Rally Title in Ford Focus World Rally Car Mohammed Ben Sulayem welcomed the arrival of the Syrian International Rally into the FIA Middle East Championship (MERC) as another positive step for the regional...

Arab World's Top Driver Will Defend Syrian Rally Title in Ford Focus World Rally Car Mohammed Ben Sulayem welcomed the arrival of the Syrian International Rally into the FIA Middle East Championship (MERC) as another positive step for the regional series, and looked forward to defending his title in the event at the wheel of his Ford Focus World Rally Car. The 12-times Middle East Champion and star of Ford's MERC Team took his Ford Focus WRC to victory in Syria last year when the rally was run as a non-championship event, under the observation of a representative of the FIA, motor sport's world governing body.

Both the FIA, and Ben Sulayem, were suitably impressed. The rally has been included in this year's FIA Middle East Championship, and Ben Sulayem happily accepted an invitation from the organisers, the Syrian Racing Organising Company, to attend an official news conference staged in Damascus to announce details of the event.

"We entered the rally last year as an official Ford MERC team because we wanted to support efforts to give Syria a place in the championship," said Ben Sulayem. "It was a well organised event, and I'm very happy that it has been included in the championship. We need new events and new rally venues to boost interest in the sport in the Middle East."

Taking place on September 6-7, the 2001 Syrian International Rally will see Ben Sulayem bidding to extend the sport's best winning record in his Ford Focus WRC.

His recent victory in the Jordan International Rally was his 53rd career win in the FIA Middle East Championship, and his fourth success in a row this season, kept Ford firmly on course to land both the manufacturers' and drivers' titles for a fifth time in the same year.

Ben Sulayem, who arrived in Damascus as a guest of honour of the Syrian Racing Organising Company, will be attempting to extend his 100 per cent record in the Ford Focus WRC this season in next month's Rally of Lebanon.

-rally-net/Ford Racing

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