MERC: Saudi Arabia join motorsports?

The Saudi Rally 2000 at the end of December brought a big question to all Rally fans in Saudi Arabia and other countries. Is it possible that this event will be held again or will it be a round in the Middle-East Rally...

            The Saudi Rally 2000 at the end of December brought a       
big question to all Rally fans in Saudi Arabia and other    
countries. Is it possible that this event will be held      
again or will it be a round in the Middle-East Rally        
Championship?                                              


Ron Cremen'sMitsubishi evo. Photo: rally-net

It is very early to answer this question, but there is a possibility of running the event once again in the middle of the year with the hope of entering the championship calendar in 2002. Saudi Arabia might join motor sport activities in the coming few years.

The winner of the first rally in Saudi Arabia was Ford champion driver Mohammed Ben Sulayem who scored a storming win behind the wheels of his Ford Focus World Rally Car. The Saudi fans turned out in great numbers to witness and cheer.

Seven cars took off from the starting line in front of the Marriott Hotel in Riyadh, and headed straight to the Shamama region where seven stages were held totalling 132 km, with a liaison section stretching over 226 km.

The Saudi crowd, for the first time witnessing this kind of activity, cheered for Ben Sulayem, the 12-time Middle East rally champion, as he posted the best timings in all stages. He crossed the finish line 6' 32" ahead of his closest rival, Qatar's Hamed Al Suweidi (Mitsubishi Lancer). Sheikh Hamed Bin Eid Al Thani (Toyota Celica), also from Qatar, came third scoring five minutes less than Al Suweidi. Bahraini Sajad Hamed was 4th and Saudi Issam Romani was 5th. Qataris Al Manai' and Al Mari did not make it to the finish line due to mechanical problems.

"Every thing went as planned," said ben Sulayem. "The event was well organized and judging by the number of spectators and media representatives, I have to say it was a success. I hope this will open the way for the rally's inclusion in the Middle East Rally Championship in the near future.

"Once again, the Ford MERC team got the set-up right on the Focus, which enabled me to offer the Saudi crowd a good race and a good show. The Focus was as awesome as always," he added. now , what left to find out is if saudi-arabia will join all the other countries in this region and get a round of this great rally championship .

the 4th round of the middle-east rally championship will be in cyprus at the end of April .

-Duby Miller

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