MERC: Sulayem returns to action in Syria rally

Arab World's Top Driver Eager For Return To Action In Damascus En Route To Another Ford Double Title Triumph Ben Sulayem Takes Ford Focus WRC Back On Victory Trail In Syria Mohammed Ben Sulayem is eagerly looking forward to a return to action...

Arab World's Top Driver Eager For Return To Action In Damascus En Route To Another Ford Double Title Triumph

Ben Sulayem Takes Ford Focus WRC Back On Victory Trail In Syria

Mohammed Ben Sulayem is eagerly looking forward to a return to action at the wheel of his Ford Focus World Rally Car (WRC) next month, as the FIA Middle East Rally Championship crosses another new frontier into Syria.

With the Syrian International Rally taking its place in the regional series for the first time on September 6-7, Ben Sulayem has the chance to extend a winning record that includes victories at every venue where he has competed in the regional championship.

Despite his exit from last month's Rally of Lebanon, when Ben Sulayem and co-driver Ronan Morgan were treated in hospital for burns after their rally car caught fire, the Arab world's top driver remains firmly on course for another double Ford Middle East title success.

Linking up again in his Ford Focus WRC with Jordanian co-driver Khaled Zakaria, the 12-times Middle East champion could clinch both the drivers' and manufacturers' titles if he pulls off the 54th win of his career in the regional series.

"That's a possibility, although it could go down to the last round in Dubai, and I'll just be taking it one step at a time," said Ben Sulayem.

"I'm eager to get back behind the wheel, and put what happened in Lebanon behind me. It's always nice to welcome another new event to the championship, and I'm looking forward to returning to Syria for what should be a very good event."

Ben Sulayem 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. He returned to Damascus in May as a special guest of the organisers, the Syrian Racing Organising Company, to help promote the event at a news conference.

Ben Sulayem recovered quickly from burns to his face and neck. Morgan, who had announced earlier in the year that the Rally of Lebanon would be his last event, has also avoided any serious after-affects from burns to his face and hands.

Currently enjoying a holiday in Spain with his family, the Irishman said: "I'm almost completely mended. My right hand is still giving me some discomfort and I won't be able to go out in the sun without wearing cream on my face for a while, but there are no other after effects."

Zakaria partnered Ben Sulayem to three successive victories in the Ford Focus WRC in Qatar, Bahrain and Jordan earlier this year. "He's rejoining me in Syria, and we'll take it from there, with just one other event to follow for me in Dubai this year," said Ben Sulayem. "Khaled has done a very good job so far, and we'll just have to sit down at the end of the season and discuss our plans for next year."

-duby millar

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About this article
Series Other rally , WRC
Drivers Ronan Morgan