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Roger Feghali clinches emphatic victory in Lebanon

2004 Rally of Lebanon
FIA Middle East Rally Championship, round 5 of 8

For immediate release
Sunday, July 4th, 2004

ROGER FEGHALI TAKES VICTORY IN RALLY OF LEBANON

UAE's Khalid Al-Qassimi finishes in eighth place and keeps championship lead

JOUNIEH (Lebanon): Roger Feghali and Nabil Njeim clinched victory in the 28th Rally of Lebanon, the fifth round of the 2004 FIA Middle East Rally Championship, after 19 timed special stages to the north and east of Beirut. The event finished in Jounieh on Sunday afternoon.

Defending champion Feghali spent the entire opening leg embroiled in a frantic tussle with brother Abdo for superiority over the slippery tarmac stages in the hills around Batroun and Blat. When Abdo fitted the wrong tyres to his Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution 7 for the final two stages of the leg and slid off the road, Roger duly began the final day with a 48.3 second advantage and was never troubled from then on.

Abdo consolidated his position over the closing stages to take second overall and three-times former rally winner Jean-Pierre Nasrallah overhauled fellow Lebanese driver Doumit Bou Doumit to take third, once he was happier with the revised suspension settings on his new Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution 8. Qatar's Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah moved within one point of the FIA regional championship lead, courtesy of the four points he collected for fifth place in his Subaru Impreza.

The UAE's Sheikh Khalid Al-Qassimi and Ulster co-driver Michael Orr finished eighth overall in the Power Horse World Rally Team Subaru Impreza WRX STi. The UAE driver overcame a serious illness earlier in the week to began the final leg in 10th position and he soon overhauled 'Marco' to take ninth.

He then became involved in a fascinating tussle with Lebanon's Henri Massaad and the UAE's Sheikh Suhail Bin Khalifa Al-Maktoum for the final points-scoring positions and snatched a crucial point on the last stage when Rodrigue Rahi had a flat tyre.

~I was a little concerned about the stages on the second day,~ admitted Al-Qassimi. ~When I should have been out practicing earlier in the week I was in hospital with a kidney stone problem. I had to ask myself the question this morning whether I was fully confident with old pace notes for these stages and whether I was going to push.

~I had nothing to lose, because I was not in a points-scoring position and needed to finish eighth or higher. Suhail had the same game plan and it was exciting over the closing stages until I lost a minute in the 15th stage with a broken driveshaft. Now I must look ahead to the last three rallies of the season and ensure that I keep the pressure on Nasser and push for the title.~

Due to the fact that Lebanese drivers still score points in the regional series, the FIA Drivers' Championship remains relatively unchanged with Al-Attiyah, Suhail Khalifa and Al-Qassimi the only regular championship drivers to score points in Lebanon. There were seven Lebanese drivers inside the final top 10.

Jordan's Amjad Farrah retired his Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution after an electrical fire damaged a wiring loom and Saudi Arabian series challenger Issa Al-Dossari broke a driveshaft and then collided with a banking. Cypriot Andreas Tsouloftas was never on the pace of the front-runners and retired with engine problems in the 16th stage.

The final leg offered eight special stages through the Yahchouch, Blat, Zandouka and Bteghrine tests, punctuated by three service stops in Jounieh. No stage records were broken this year, as a result of the FIA's decision to ban World Rally Cars from rounds of the regional series in 2004.

Positions after SS19 (top 9 - unofficial):
1. Roger Feghali (RL)/Nabil Njeim (RL) Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution 8 2h 49m 22.9s
2. Abdo Feghali (RL)/Marc Haddad (RL) Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution 7 2h 51m 00.2s
3. Jean-Pierre Nasrallah (RL)/Joseph Mattar (RL) Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution 8 2h 53m 20.7s
4. Doumit Bou Doumit (RL)/Ziad Maalouf (RL) Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution 6 2h 54m 39.6s
5. Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah (QA)/Chris Patterson (GB) Subaru Impreza WRX STi 2h 56m 55.8s
6. Henry Massaad (RL)/Jihad Khalife (RL) Renault Clio RS 2h 59m 20.6s
7. Sheikh Suhail bin Khalifa Al-Maktoum (UAE)/Ahmad Ghaziri (RL) Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution 6 2h 59m 50.1s
8. Sheikh Khalid Al-Qassimi (UAE)/Michael Orr (GB) Subaru Impreza WRX STi 3h 00m 50.5s
9. Ziad Feghali (RL)/Jihad El Hachem (RL) Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution 6 3h 01m 44.4s

2004 FIA Middle East Rally Championship (unofficial):
Positions after round 5 of 8 (Drivers):
1. Khalid Al-Qassimi (UAE) - Subaru* 25 pts
2. Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah (QA) - Subaru* 24 pts
3. Andreas Tsouloftas (CY) 21 pts
4. Amjad Farrah (HKJ) 18 pts
5. Ahmed Al-Sabban (KSA) 12 pts
5. Issa Al-Dossari (KSA) 12 pts
7. Roger Feghali (RL) 10 pts
9. Suhail Khalifa (UAE) 8 pts
9. Michel Saleh (RL) 8 pts
9. Abdo Feghali (RL) 8 pts
11. Abdulaziz Al-Kuwari (QA) 6 pts
11. Jean-Pierre Nasrallah (RL) 6 pts
13. Bashar Bustami (HKJ) 5 pts
13. Abdullah Al-Kuwari (QA) 5 pts
13. Doumit Bou Doumit (RL) 5 pts
16. Abdullah Al-Qassimi (UAE) 4 pts
16. Ebrahim Busmait (BAH) 4 pts
18. Amir Arnaout (SYR) 3 pts
18. Henry Massaad (RL) - Renault* 3pts
20. David Scialom (GB) 2 pts
20. Hamed Al-Sowaidi (QA) 2 pts
22. Khalifa Haifaa (SYR) 1pt
22. Toufic Mitri (UAE) 1 pt
22. Meshal Al-Nejadi (KWT) - Citroen* 1 pt
22. Hassan Al-Sadadi (BAH) - Subaru* 1 pt
(* Mitsubishi unless stated)

Positions after round 5 of 8 (Co-Drivers):
1.Michael Orr (GB) 25 pts
2. Khaled Zakaria (HKJ) 18 pts
3. Steve Lancaster (GB) 17 pts
4. Chris Patterson (GB) 14 pts
5. Killian Duffy (IRL) 12 pts
5. Ramzi Mansour (HKJ) 12 pts
7. Nabil Njeim (RL) 10 pts
8. Savvas Laos (CY) 8 pts
8. Ziad Chehab (RL) 8 pts
8. Costas Laos (CY) 8 pts
8. Marc Haddad (RL) 8 pts
12. Nasser Al-Kuwari (QA) 6 pts
12. Wael Marjan (UAE) 6 pts
12. Joseph Matar (RL) 6 pts
15. Ziad Maalouf (RL) 5 pts
15. Andreas Achilleos (CY) 5 pts
17. Gaby Khoury (UAE) 4 pts
17. Nadem Mohammed (BAH) 4 pts
19. Yousef Al-Asmar (HKJ) 3 pts
19. Adel Hussain (QA) 3 pts
19. Jihad Khalife (RL) 3 pts
22. Ahmad Ghaziri (RL) 2 pts
22. Kevin Clark (GB) 2 pts
22. Michael Morrissey (QA) 2 pts
25. Jafar Al-Souhail (UAE) 1 pt
25. Burhan Abu Khoura (HKJ) 1 pt
25. George Aletraris (OM) 1 pt
25. Hamoud Al-Jabry (OM) 1 pt

1600 (2WD)
1. Meshal Al-Nejadi (KWT) - Citroen 28 pts
2. Nearchos Nearchou (CY) - Proton 26 pts
3. Essam Al-Nejadi (KWT) - Proton 12 pts
4. Naji Stephan (RL) - Peugeot 10 pts
5. Abir Batikhi (HKJ) - Opel 8 pts
6. Luay Abu-Kaff (HKJ) - Peugeot 6 pts
7. Ziad Karanouh (RL) - Peugeot 5 pts

Ends

Date issued: 04/07/2004

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