September 9, 2016 – Henry Massaad and Ramy Menhem have ended the 2016 Lebanese Rally Championship season on an absolute high as they claimed victory at the end of the 39th Rally of Lebanon.
The Bassoul Heneine-backed Renault Clio R3T team endured a season of ups and downs, beginning with a place on the podium in the season opener – the Spring Rally – where they finished 2nd in the RC3 category. However, their strong showings in the next two rounds in Jezzine and Cedars were interrupted by retirements.
The team’s aim for Rally of Lebanon was to maintain the pace that they were enjoying throughout the season, in addition to competing for front-running positions.
Rally of Lebanon – in its 39th edition this year – is the most prestigious and most difficult event of the year as it features lengthy and demanding special stages that require physical and mental endurance. It is the final round of the Lebanese Rally Championship and the fourth round of the Middle East Rally Championship, with 31 teams from Lebanon and the region contesting it.
The 2016 event features 11 special stages that cover 209.10 kilometers of the rally’s 664.13-kilometer total distance. It was held over 3 days, from September 2 until September 4.
Henry and Ramy were on the attack from the outset, setting competitive times and slotting in 2nd place in RC3 – a place that they managed to maintain throughout the 3-day event without being challenged. Moreover, the Renault Clio R3T crew overcame a minor incident and small mechanical issue to reach the finish successfully at the end of the trying event, claiming the runner-up spot in the RC3 category and front-wheel drive category.
The team was ranked 6th overall in the final classification, which is a major achievement considering they were competing against teams with faster all-wheel drive machinery.
However, a time penalty for their main class competitor Bassel Abou Hamdan promoted the Renault team to victory in RC3 and 5th place overall – marking the pair’s and Renault Clio R3T’s best ever result to date.
In a post-race interview, Henry described his experience in the 39th Rally of Lebanon and thanked the sponsors by saying: “It was a difficult event but we tried our best and we were quite fast. We had a minor incident that fortunately did not affect us very much. We were a bit more cautious towards the end because of a mechanical niggle. However, I’m happy to have completed the rally on the podium.”
He added: “I would really like to thank Bassoul-Heneine for supporting me for the second year in a row. Also, big thanks to my sponsors Mic, Straight Line, Motul, Progetti and Panino Bakery. They have helped and encouraged us and I hope they can join us next year for another season.”