August 20, 2015 – Ahead of two of the most anticipated events in the Lebanese motorsport season, we met up with Abdo Feghali and chatted about both the 2015 Red Bull Car Park Drift and the 2015 Rally of Lebanon. Abdo spoke openly about what happened in the Cedars’ Rally and his projects for the future.
How are the preparations for the Red Bull Car Park Drift?
I’m really happy with what’s going on for this year’s the Red Bull Car Park Drift especially that it will be held in the LBCI studios in Adma, and it’s going to be broadcasted live on LBCI, which is a big thing.
As we all know, the top 16 drifters in Lebanon will be competing, and I can proudly say that they are the top 16 drifters in Lebanon because they’ve already done four drifting events and they are the creme de la creme. I’m sure that it’s going to be a fierce competition and I hope that no one is going to face any mechanical problems because we need to select the best two drifters to represent Lebanon in the CPD finals in Kuwait, which is taking place in the first week of December.
I’m visiting the track every day; it’s a big challenge, it’s kind of slippery, tight in some places and fast in other places. I’m pretty excited for that.
What do you think of the level of competition in the Lebanese Drift Championship?
The drifters are very close to each other, they practiced a lot all year long; their cars are almost similar and there have been no mechanical problems in previous events. Any small or slight mistake by a drifter will cost him first place, so it’s a big big battle and may the best win.
Is there anything special about this year’s Red Bull CPD compared to previous years?
Of course. First of all, it’s going to be broadcasted live on LBCI, and this has never happened before in Lebanon. We all know how popular drifting is. Imagine on a Sunday night, at 9:30 PM; it’s peak time as people will be at home after the weekend, just watching TV, and they can enjoy watching the best drifters in town.
Another special thing about this year’s Red Bull CPD is that we’re back to the roots. The track will have a lot of variations and many obstacles, it’s a very nice and tricky track.
Who are the judges for this year’s Red Bull CPD?
We have the champion Jean-Pierre Nasrallah, in addition to Moustafa Fakhri and two judges from ASN and ATCL, who should be Gaby Kreiker and Elie Ghanem. They all have experience and I’m pretty relaxed and comfortable with their judging methods.
We heard that you will not be competing in this year’s Rally of Lebanon. Why?
I won’t be competing in Rally of Lebanon this year, because you remember the Cedars’ Rally, when I drove the Ford Fiesta RRC and I paid every single penny from my personal pocket. I was betting on winning the rally to attract Ford’s regional office to back me up, and my other sponsors. Unfortunately, I couldn’t win the rally due to a lot of weird reasons; a Mitsubishi R4 was faster than a Ford RRC, it was obvious, so that’s why I decided to call it off for this year and try to concentrate on next year.
You drove the Fiesta RRC for the first time in the Cedars’ Rally, do you think the car would have helped you challenge Nasser and Roger, assuming you were to participate? And do you think Nasser’s decision to drive the Fabia R5 is the right thing?
Before the Cedars’ Rally, I was pretty sure that the RRC car was the best car behind the WRC car, but what we saw there (at the Cedars’ Rally)… I was pretty shocked that an R4, of course, driven by Roger, who’s a very good driver, but still, it’s a Mitsubishi R4, was faster than the RRC. Honestly, I don’t know now. I think, as everyone is saying, the future is the R5, as you can see with the new Skoda R5 that Nasser will be driving and the Ford Fiesta R5 that Roger will be driving. These are the best two R5s in the world.
The RRC car lacks top speed and power, and suspension-wise and braking it’s not the same as the R5. I was shocked to know this information after the Cedars’ Rally. I would’ve loved to know these things before, but unfortunately, I knew them after the rally. So, that’s why I think an R5 with a good driver, who knows how to deal with it on tight hairpins, to keep the car revving high, is the best.
They are saying that the Skoda R5 is better than the Ford R5, but I’m sure that Roger will be making the difference and he can hopefully beat Nasser during this year’s Rally of Lebanon.
Are you planning to compete in the Lebanese Rally Championship next year? If yes, will it be the same approach as every year, or will you try something new? If no, what are your plans for the future?
Of course. I’m planning to do next year’s full Lebanese Rally Championship on an R5. I’ve been racing with my brother for the past 11 years, and he’s been my engineer since then, so he knows all of my secrets, all of my data, and he’s a very good driver. So, whenever he reads the data, he knows how he can improve, and that makes my life really hard.
I think the only way to do it is to get another team. Unfortunately, in Lebanon and in the Middle East, no one can compete with Motortune Racing, they are way far ahead. That’s why the only solution is to get a team from Europe, but that would cost me almost 2 times the price that I have to pay to Motortune and Roger in Lebanon, but I think this is the only way. I need to have my own team, I need to clear my mind, I need to know that if I’m losing, it’s up to me, it’s not anything with the car or with the tyres. I need to clear everything.
As I said, it’s going to cost me double, but it’s either this way or it’s better not to do anything, just stay home and enjoy the events that we’re doing all over the world and make more money.