Feghali brothers take control in Lebanon
27th Marlboro Rally of Lebanon
FIA Middle East Rally Championship, round 2 of 6
For immediate release
Sunday, July 6th, 2003
FEGHALI BROTHERS TAKE
CONTROL IN LEBANON
Al-Qassimi moves into championship lead; Early misery for Bakhashab; Doumit and Kazan excluded
Jounieh (Lebanon): Lebanese brothers Roger and Abdo Feghali turned the 27th Rally of Lebanon into a family battle, when they controlled proceedings from start to finish over 21 timed tarmac stages on this second round of the FIA Middle East Rally Championship. The event finished in Jounieh, north of Beirut, today (Sunday).
Eldest brother Roger, at the wheel of a Subaru Impreza WRC, eventually beat his brother's 1999-specification Toyota Corolla WRC by 65.7 seconds, but the pair had been separated by only a handful of seconds for much of the rally.
~It was a fantastic battle between myself and my brother,~ admitted Roger. ~I built up a small lead and then lost time with a flat tyre. But I was always able to claw back some time. We had a great battle. He was always close behind and I never had chance to relax or lose my concentration.~
Lebanon's Phillipe Kazan finished ahead in the Group N category in his Honda Civic Type-R - only to be excluded for a brake infringement - as Sharjah's Sheikh Abdullah Al-Qassimi inherited the Group N win, sixth place and duly took a one-point lead in the 2003 FIA Middle East rally championship in his Group N Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution 7.
Abdullah Bakhashab badly needed a top finish to rekindle his battered championship aspirations. But the Saudi driver damaged his factory Peugeot 206 WRC on the Super Special stage in downtown Beirut on Friday evening and then suffered the ignominy of rolling it into a field on the second special stage near Batroun.
~What a great way to spend your birthday,~ groaned co-driver Bobby Willis. ~Upside down in a field on the second stage!~
Qatar's Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah looked set to extend his championship lead for four stages and held third overall on his tarmac debut, but mechanical trouble for the Subaru driver was followed by a sixth-stage accident and he joined Qatar team mate Abdullah Al-Kuwari on the retirement list.
This promoted Lebanon's Doumit Bou Doumit into third overall until the end of the opening leg in his Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 5. Doumit's engine was examined at the end of the leg and a turbocharger irregularity was uncovered, which led to his exclusion from the rally.
Abdo Feghali had won the 2.1 kms Super Special stage, but brother Roger hit the front on the first of the traditional tarmac stages in the hills north of Beirut and quickly took control of proceedings, as Abdo and Qatar's Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah - the championship leader after round one - trailed in his wake.
When Roger lost 30 seconds with a flat tyre he slipped behind his younger brother, only to regain the initiative as the opening leg progressed in hot and humid conditions through the mountains. The pair were separated by a mere 21 seconds after 11 special stages, before Roger edged further ahead on the final day after a solid and troublefree performance.
Lebanese veteran Michel Saleh was plagued by numerous problems; he borrowed an alternator, punched a hole through the bonnet with the front suspension and sustained a flat tyre, but still managed to finish fifth overall in his ageing Toyota Celica GT4.
Lebanon's Rodrigue Rahi finished third in a Lancia Delta HF Integrale and 'Marco' was fourth in a Volkswagen Golf GTI Kit Car.
Saudi Arabia's Farouk Ghurab crashed his Impreza WRX in the second stage, Lebanon's Sleiman Slim retired his Renault with transmission problems and Kuwait's Mohammed Al-Sarraf suffered from electrical maladies. Qataris Abdullah Al-Kuwari and Misfer Al-Marri retired their Mitsubishis following accidents.
The next round of the series will be the Jordan International Rally on July 24-26th.
Rally of Lebanon - final positions after SS21:
1. Roger Feghali (RL)/Ziad Chehab (RL) Subaru Impreza WRC 2h 46m 07.0s
2. Abdo Feghali (RL)/Joseph Mattar (RL) Toyota Corolla WRC 2h 47m 12.7s
3. Rodrigue Rahi (RL)/Patrick Ziade (RL) Lancia Delta HF Integrale 3h 07m 12.4s
4. Marco (RL)/Sam Sawaya (RL) Volkswagen Golf GTI Kit Car 3h 09m 26.4s
5. Michel Saleh (RL)/Ahmad Ghaziri (RL) Toyota Celica GT4 3h 09m 50.0s
6. Abdullah Al-Qassimi (UAE)/Gaby Khoury (UAE) Mitsubishi Lancer Evo7 3h 13m 30.8s
7. Elan (RL)/Ziad Khawam (RL) Mitsubishi Lancer Evo6 3h 13m 46.4s
8. Elia Germany (RL)/Sam Chaaya (RL) Lancia Delta HF Integrale 3h 14m 47.9s
9. Khalid Al-Qassimi (UAE)/Khaled Al-Kendi (UAE) Mitsubishi Lancer Evo6 3h 15m 18.0s
FIA Middle East rally championship positions after round 2 of 6:-
1. Sheikh Abdullah Al-Qassimi (UAE) 11
3. Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah (QA) and Roger Feghali (RL) 10
4. Abdo Feghali (RL) 8
5. Justin Dale (GB) and Rodrigue Rahi (RL) 6
7. Abdulaziz Al-Kuwari (QA) and Marco (RL) 5
9. Craig Johnson (GB) and Michel Saleh (RL) 4
11. Abdullah Al-Rabban (QA) 3
12. Abdulrahman Ghuloom (BAH) and Elan (RL) 2
14. Wayne Boshier (UAE) and Elie Germany (RL) 1
FIA Middle East rally championship - Group N positions after round 2 of 6:-
1. Justin Dale (GB) and Sheikh Abdullah Al-Qassimi (UAE) 10
4. Abdulaziz Al-Kuwari (QA) and Elan (RL) 8
6. Craig Johnson (GB) and Sheikh Khaled Al-Qassimi (UAE) 6
8. Abdullah Al-Rabban (QA) and Toni Abdel Hak (RL) 5
10. Abdulrahman Ghuloom (BAH) and Hamad Al-Sowaidi (QA) 4
12. Wayne Boshier (UAE) and Khaled Al-Attiyah (QA) 3
13. Farouq Ghurab (KSA) and Antoine Honein (RL) 2
15. Ahmed Al-Sabban (KSA) 1