Dany, first off, congratulations on your victory in the Falougha Hill Climb last weekend, but before we get to the Hill Climb, we must ask about your absence from the championship last year.
First of all, thank you. Secondly, the main reason for my absence is the lack of support, I did not have proper sponsorship, so I decided to put everything together from last year and this year, and take part in this year’s championship in a well-prepared car. We took our time in setting up the car and we had little practice, but thank God, we pulled through and the result is great.
Why did you pick this Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX in particular?
This car is suitable for Hill Climb. I was initially driving a Lancer Evo VI for testing purposes, not more than that. We were just trying to pinpoint our position in terms of pace, and now the right time has come to test the Prototype car for the Hill Climb.
Have you driven the car before the Falougha Hill Climb test?
To be honest, I had a very short test in the car, around 10 to 15 kilometers, and we changed all of the car’s settings. The team was with me the whole time and we worked hard together to get the car ready on time for Falougha.
You are one of eleven drivers who took part in the Falougha Hill Climb, while 28 other drivers decided to withdraw from the event. Why did you participate?
I participated because I worked hard for it. Additionally, there were spectators waiting and my sponsors waiting, and my team was ready after having strived hard. I took the decision to participate because it was disrespectful towards the ATCL, spectators, teams and sponsors to just leave. It wasn’t right to withdraw. It’s not up to the drivers, it’s up to the ATCL.
There was competition between you and Rodrigue Rahi, and you managed to defeat him. If Roger and Abdo had taken part, where do you think you would have been?
To be honest, I had no certain targets in mind. I was just there to test. My team told me not to push, to take my time and get to grips with the car. My target was to keep up with Rodrigue, in case I felt comfortable in the car. I would like to thank Rodrigue for staying in the race. I managed to beat him and clock a great time. I was in a comfortable position, so I pushed harder in the second run just to see how far I can go, but I slowed down in the final run as I wasn’t supposed to risk it.
You had lots of missed shifts. What’s the reason?
Yes, the main reason is lack of practice. A second reason is my gloves; I wasn’t comfortable with my gloves. I’m looking for thinner gloves now, so it’s a physical thing as well. On top of that, the car had a normal gearbox, not a dogbox or sequential, so it takes some getting used to. It was also the first time I race a Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX, my previous participations were not in Mitsubishis.
Dany, some people claim you’re not a worthy winner due to the dispute that took place on Sunday. What do you have to say to those people, and do you think you’ve earned victory?
I honestly participated for testing purposes, but I managed to put a decent time when I found myself comfortable in the car. I think my time speaks for itself, and it’s not very far from the record time, which is about 2 minutes 6 seconds and belongs to Abdo Feghali; no one has broken his record yet. I was 3 seconds off that time and I’m still in stages of testing, so I think I did very well. I could’ve pushed harder, but nobody was there. Had Motortune taken part, I would have probably put more pressure because the competition would be very difficult.
There are two more rounds to go and you are in an excellent position in terms of championship points. Where would like to put yourself in the next couple of races to take advantage of the situation?
A podium finish is always the target, but it depends on the track conditions, the car and the team. I don’t make the decisions, the team does. We will have to see the conditions; the target is a top 5 finish, but of course, we would like to be in the top 3. If I’m comfortable with the car, then maybe I can push for a top 3 finish.
Do you have anything else to add?
I would to thank my team first of all, Rayes Racing Parts, who has always been there for me; I can’t reward them enough. I would also like to thank my sponsors Oaks Pub Brummana and Salon Ray Brummana. Thank you to the people who stood by me and helped me, both morally and financially. Thank you to all the drivers who took part in the race and the ATCL for the organization. Hopefully, the next race is going to be better, and I hope that the drivers and organizers come to solve the problem that doesn’t even exist had the drivers read the regulations properly, and thank you guys at Biser3a.com.