Sulayem takes trip down memory lane in Jordan

Sulayem takes trip down memory lane in Jordan

17.04.2008: Sulayem takes trip down memory lane in Jordan

Arab rallying legend returns to scene of first international win for Kingdom’s World Championship debut

Flashback – Mohammed Ben Sulayem on his way to victory in the 2001 Jordan International Rally

As Jordan prepares to become the first Arab country since Morocco in 1976 to host a round of the FIA World Rally Championship, Mohammed Ben Sulayem is contemplating a nostalgic trip down memory lane in the Hashemite Kingdom.

Sulayem, who won the Jordan Rally a record 12 times, will be a special guest of Jordan Motorsport Chairman Prince Feisal Al Hussein for next week’s historic WRC event.

It was in Jordan 24 years ago that Sulayem scored his first international rally victory in a career which eventually brought him 14 FIA Middle East titles and 61 individual wins in the regional series.

Some of his early battles in Jordan with Qatar’s Saeed Al Hajri are legend in Middle East rally circles, and Sulayem, now President of the Automobile and Touring Club for the UAE, is relishing his latest return visit to Amman.

"This is a big occasion for Jordan, and it’s a reward for a lot of hard work done over the years," he said, looking ahead to the ceremonial start of the WRC Jordan Rally on Thursday (24th April).

"The Jordan Rally has been one of the top events in the Middle East for a long time and deserves its place in the World Rally Championship. His Majesty King Hussein had a great passion for motor sport which is shared by His Majesty King Abdullah and has been passed on to the people of Jordan."

Sulayem, pictured with HRH Prince Faisal Al Hussein, believes Jordan will do itself proud on its WRC debut.

"I’m grateful to Prince Feisal for my invitation and I’m sure Jordan will do itself proud. This is a positive thing for Middle East rallying as a whole.

Added Sulayem: "I have so many memories of rallying in Jordan and I’ve made a great friends there over the years so it’s nice to go back again to see an Arab country host a WRC rally for the first time in the modern era."

Prince Feisal Al Hussein said: "Mohammed Ben Sulayem is a big friend of the Jordan Rally and has a huge fan base here after winning it a record number of times. He has also been a staunch supporter of our bid to step up to the FIA WRC so we are looking forward to welcoming him back to share an historic occasion for Middle East rallying."

Four-times world champion Sebastien Loeb heads the powerful WRC line-up in Jordan while 2003 WRC winner Petter Solberg hopes one of Sulayem’s former co-drivers can help him score a surprise win.

Welshman Phil Mills, now well-established as Solberg’s regular navigator, was in the cockpit alongside Sulayem when he won in Jordan in 1994.

 

- Tony Lewis, Total Communications Dubai, also photos -

Permanent-URL: http://www.automobilsport.com/jordan-rally-mohammed-ben-sulayem-al-hajri-prince-feisal-al-hussein-middle-east---35957.html

17.04.2008 / MaP

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