The Middle-East Rally Championship (MERC) for all over the years got visitors from countries not just in the middle-east but also from Europe , Asia & Australia. One of the most famous names that take part in this championship for years is the...
The Middle-East Rally Championship (MERC) for all over the years got visitors from countries not just in the middle-east but also from Europe , Asia & Australia.
One of the most famous names that take part in this championship for years is the Australian Ron Cremen.
Cremen started rally in 1973 in a mini cooper S in local rallies in Australia his first visit to the MERC was back in 1995 he won the group-N Middle-east title in 1996 and came 2nd in 1997 & 1998 Cremen's favorites rallies in the championship are the Cyprus rounds, Lebanon & Jordan rally although he will not take part in this year event (17-19\5 ) , he just sold his Mitsubishi Lancer EVO-4 and bought a new EVO-6 that he intend to run in the DUBAI champions rally the week after Jordan.
Cremen's contacts with Mitsubishi started long time ago when he was still rally in the Asia-pacific region , then the Japanese manufacturer give Cremen full support for his middle-east campaign. For this year Cremen's Mitsubishi team runs also the car of Mubarak al-Hajiry.
Cremen says that the main problem with the MERC is the "short-cuts" and he explain :"I would have to say that I am a little disappointed at the lack of drivers keeping to the "rally route" in the opening rounds and the organizers not doing anything about it, it appears that only Cyprus and Lebanon are the only events with no short cuts!!!.
Most of the organizers do try to do some thing about the short cuts / cheating by placing passage controls at most of the obvious junctions, but the competitors in Qatar and U.A..E. events simply do not stick to the road books and leave the "official" road to find a shorter course between the 2 check points. They do not believe this to be cheating but simply finding a better "line". The problem is those of us that do not do this are at a great disadvantage in our stage times and cannot be competitive. Last year I was leading G/N in an event by over 60 secs after day 1 in mountain areas, only to have 65 sec taken from me in the 1st stage on day 2 due to a short cut, this happens event after event in all countries except for Lebanon & Cyprus.
Bahrain has done a lot to stop this in their event. The obvious solution is to have secret passage controls, as they do in the U.A.E. championship. (no GPS reference points listed in road book and you are only given the passage control location the day of the event) That way if you do not stick to the course you could miss a control and be penalized. The problem is this did happen to "famous" competitors in the past only for them to find a loop hole in the regulations for their cheating, and have the decision overturned."
For the future Cremen has plans to rally in the WRC rounds of Cyprus , Greece & African-safari. In the 2001 season so far for Cremen - he had blown engine in the 1st round at Abu-Dahabi, suspension problems in Qatar and 5th overall and 4th in group-N in Bahrain.