MERC World's top co-drivers head to Damascus for Syrian International Rally

2010 Syrian International Rally
FIA Middle East Rally Championship, round 6 of 8

For immediate release
Friday, October 1st, 2010


Belgian legend Stéphane Prevot set for Syrian challenge
Italian Giovanni Bernacchini aiming for seventh MERC victory
Ireland’s Ronan Morgan leads MERC’s new Co-driver ‘Hall of Fame’

DAMASCUS (Syria): Several of the world’s leading co-drivers will take part in next week’s MTN-backed Syrian International Rally, round six of the FIA Middle East Rally Championship, which takes place in the deserts around Sednaya on October 7-9.

While drivers normally earn more than their fair share of glory in the high-speed sport of international rallying, the partnership between the driver and co-driver is crucial to success. The co-driver is the ‘office manager’ of the car, responsible for the timings of the team, reading the route instructions and liaising with team management on non-driving affairs.

The co-driver calls the corners, straights, hairpins and mentally assesses the terrain before finalising his pace notes to be read at high-speed during the actual special stages. One error by the co-driver, be it mathematical or in note accuracy, can have catastrophic consequences for a rally team.

The FIA World Rally Championship is the pinnacle of the sport and several names on the entry list for the 10th Syrian International Rally have a fine reputation competing at the highest level.

Forty-one-year old Belgian co-driver Stéphane Prevot is the most experienced international navigator on the Syrian entry list. He will co-drive for the Qatari driver Abdulaziz Al-Kuwari in a Subaru Impreza. Prevot was born at Huy in Belgium and has worked for many of the leading professional teams.

He made his debut in the Belgian Championship in 1987 and went on to win the Belgian Group N Championship with Marc Timmers three years later. He later teamed up with the highly-rated Belgian driver Bruno Thiry in a works Opel Kadett and the pair finished a superb second overall in the 1992 Ivory Coast Rally.
He signed for the factory Ford team in 1994, finished fifth in the WRC and maintained a close association with the Blue Oval through the late nineties. Prevot won a European rally title with Thiry in 1999 and the pair signed for the Subaru World Rally Team.

He switched to the official Skoda operation in 2001 and worked with the Bastos Peugeot WRC team in 2002. Second places followed in the Mexican and German rounds of the WRC in 2004 and he tackled a programme of events with Duval in a Citroën factory car the following season.

Prevot returned to the Subaru World Rally Team in 2006 and a successful partnership with Australian Chris Atkinson resulted in a seventh place finish for the Aussie the following year.

Italian co-driver Giovanni Bernacchini is another world-class co-driver, who made his name in the WRC with Gigi Galli and now competes in both the WRC and the Middle East rally series with Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah.

He will be aiming for a seventh career MERC win in Syria. That will push him up to equal fourth in the MERC’s new co-driving ‘Hall of Fame’. Irishman Ronan Morgan tops the list of previous co-driving Middle East rally winners with 40 successes, followed by Ulster’s Chris Patterson (25), England’s John Spiller (19) and Jordanian co-driver Khaled Zakaria with seven victories.

The Syrian event is taking place with the full support of the Ministry of Tourism, MTN – official sponsor, SMI, the Sheraton Ma’arat Sednaya, Jupiter Rent-a-Car, Zaman Alkhair, Aldunia television and Al-Madina radio.

The event is based at Sednaya, north of Damascus, for a sixth time and will start in the capital on Thursday, October 7th, with two days of special stages taking place on Friday, October 8th and Saturday, October 9th.

Further information is available from the Syrian Automobile Club, PO Box 36256, Damascus, Syria, Tel: 963 11 2323706, Fax: + 963 11 2312785, Website: www.syrianrally.com.


For further media information:
Imad Sankar, Arabic Press Officer, Tel: + 963 11 232 3706, Fax: + 963 11 231 2785, Mobile: + 963 944811129
Neil Perkins, NDP Publicity Services, International Press Officer, 2010 Syrian International Rally, Tel/Fax: + (44) 1952 825001, UK Mobile: + 44 7831 123153 E-mail: ndppublicity@googlemail.com
www.ndp-publicity.com (press releases)


Date issued: 01/10/2010

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