September 1, 2015 – With Roger Feghali having the most realistic chance of securing the Lebanese Rally Championship, it’s a different story in the championship’s Group N class where competition has been fierce all year long.
Rodrigue Rahi leads the category with 231 points as he’s been the most consistent this season, scoring points in all three previous rounds of the championship, finishing 3rd in class in the Spring Rally, 4th in class in the Jezzine Rally and 1st in class in the Cedars’ Rally.
His closest competitors this season have been TGRS teammate Eddy Abou Karam, in addition to Tamer Ghandour, and both have a class victory and a retirement, with the former winning in the Spring Rally and retiring from the Jezzine Rally, while the latter won in Jezzine and retired in the Cedars. Eddy has 210 points, while Tamer’s on 195 points.
Rally of Lebanon is split into two legs, with points awarded in both legs. Maximum points available are 90 in Leg 1 and 90 in Leg 2 (25 points for the overall leg win, 5 points for the class win, and a coefficient of 3 | [25+5]*3=90), bringing the total points available to 180. (See full points system in Page 43 of this document). But there are a lot of variables at play; for example, winning the first leg (Friday/Saturday) doesn’t guarantee a victory in the second leg (Sunday).
Naturally, both Eddy Abou Karam and Tamer Ghandour will need to finish higher than Rodrigue in order to secure the class title. However, Tamer’s job is slightly tougher than Eddy’s, with him needing to score 36 points more than Rodrigue and 15 points more than Eddy in order to take the title.
EAK, on the other hand, will need to earn 21 points more than Rodrigue, without allowing Tamer to leap ahead of him in the standings.
But let’s separate the mathematical from the practical. Practically, EAK and Tamer Ghandour have had the pace and speed advantage this season, with Rodrigue benefiting from their retirements to lead the class standings, which makes things a lot more interesting for the 38th Rally of Lebanon.
Rodrigue can afford to take it slightly easy, he can finish directly behind both Eddy and Tamer, and still clinch the Grp N title; but if he finds himself far behind, he will lose, so it’s a matter of managing the pace for Rodrigue, without losing too much speed. Eddy and Tamer, on the other hand, will need to push hard, because they not only need to beat Rodrigue, but they also have to beat one another.
So the question is: can Rodrigue benefit from Eddy and Tamer pushing hard, and therefore are more prone to errors, to beat both of them, or will he lose ground to the two? There’s also the question of who’ll finish ahead, Eddy or Tamer? The pair have been closely matched all season long.
Also, we shouldn’t forget the new threat for Group N contenders in Rally of Lebanon, in the form of 2014 ROL winner Nicolas Amiouni, who returned to the championship after missing all previous rounds and who definitely got what it takes to shake things up.
With 180 points available, the possibilities are countless and anything can happen, as evident by the 37th edition of the event, when the top drivers crashed out early, and Nicolas Amiouni eventually won. However, there’s no denying that it is going to be a very intense battle between the trio.
Mathematically, even Rodolphe Asmar, who ranks lower in the standings with 133 points, can secure the title, but his chances are much slimmer and he will require something akin to a miracle.
Group N drivers will also have to watch out for front-wheel drive class drivers who will gladly steal points away once the opportunities present themselves.