MERC Syrian drivers support home round of regional rally series

2008 Syrian International Rally
FIA Middle East Rally Championship, round 3 of 8

For immediate release
Thursday, May 29th, 2008

Saudi Arabia's Ahmed Al-Sabban returns to action
Cypriot rookie Nicos Thomas set for first desert challenge

DAMASCUS (Syria): Syria's leading drivers will support the Syrian International Rally, round three of this year's FIA Middle East Rally Championship, which gets underway in Damascus on June 5th and finishes on June 7th.

The Syrian Automobile Club has received over 35 entries for the popular gravel round of the championship, which is based at the scenic village of Sednaya, north of the capital. Among those entries are no less than six Syrian drivers, who will compete in the regional series for the first time this season. Ahmad and Mohammed Hamsho will both drive a pair of Subaru Imprezas, alongside Haitham Al-Yousefi, while Mirar Al-Homsi lines up in a Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution and completes the four-car Syrian Rally Team.

Dubai-based Syrian Yazan Rijleh is a member of the newly-formed Damas Rally Team and is a personal friend of Damas owner Tamjeed Abdullah. He forms one half of a two-man team alongside Jordanian Faris Bustami, while Asem Aref will also drive the course safety car in Damas colours. Bashar Abu Khoura completes the Syrian driver line-up.

"Business commitments have kept me away from the sport for the last two years," admitted Tamjid Abdullah of the Damas Rally Team, who will take part as a driver himself in the Lebanon, Jordan, Troodos and Dubai rallies later this year. "Rallying is still in my blood and I wanted to support my two boys as well as take part in a few events in my spare time."

Saudi Arabia's Ahmed Al-Sabban has been a regular competitor in the region since bursting on to the scene as part of the Gulf Oil Middle East team in 1993. He was forced to miss the recent event in Cyprus, but will be giving his exciting new Toyota S2000 its second outing in Syria. The car showed promise in Qatar, but Al-Sabban failed to reach the finish.

Fellow Saudi driver Yazeen Al-Rajhi has also entered the event and the winner of the Kuwait International Rally could well be one of the favourites for outright victory with British co-driver Steve Lancaster.

Meanwhile, 20-year-old Nicos Thomas, who sensationally won the second round of the regional championship in Cyprus earlier this month, will tackle his first ever desert rally in Syria. The youngster is the son of veteran Chris Thomas and was a match for the likes of Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah on the sinuous mountain stages in Cyprus. Thomas is chasing a new FIA Pirelli Junior award, but faces a baptism of fire on the fast gravel stages that make Syria one of the trickiest rounds of the series.

The Syrian event also sees the return of Bahrain's Abdul Rahman Ghuloom and his co-driving wife Esther to the regional championship. The popular Bahraini has been a regular competitor for many years and is set to take part in his venerable Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution V.

"We are delighted with the quality of the entry for this year's rally," admitted Clerk of the Course Hani Shaban. "It is pleasing to see our local drivers supporting the event again and to see several new faces making their way to Syria for the first time."
The event again runs under the patronage of the Ministry of Tourism and has attracted support from Jupeter rent-a-car, the Sheraton Ma'aret Sednaya, Honda, Nissan and Radio Syria Alghad.


For further media information:
Lutfi Estwani, Arabic Press Officer, Tel: + 963 11 232 3706, Fax: + 963 11 231 2785, Mobile: + 963 93234445
Neil Perkins, NDP Publicity Services, International Press Officer, Syrian International Rally, NCH Building, Upper Bar, Newport, Shropshire, TF10 7EH, Tel: + (44) 1952 825078, Fax: + (44) 1952 825001, UK Mobile: + 44 7831 123153 E-mail: NDPPublicity@compuserve.com
www.ndp-publicity.com (press releases)



Date issued: 29/05/2008

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