After his amazing press conference at Regency Palace in Adma, we met Fadi for this amazing interview…
Tell us in details about the project with Davidoff and getting the Clio R3 Maxi.
In general I am a bit far away from rallies because every rally needs around a month of preparation and I cannot afford to do so because of my work. There are 7 rallies in the MERC championship so I have to prepare for 7 months. On the contrary Hill Climbs need minimum time to prepare. You can prepare during the weekend, memorize the road and get good results.
This year the Middle East Hill Climb Championship was cancelled so I decided to participate in ROL 2011.
I chose the R3 Maxi because ROL is a long Rally and you need a top car. Although the budget is the same the guys with the group N cars are much more experienced and are much more prepared and the logic would say that using similar cars would put me in a position to fight for 7th 8th or maximum a top 10 position. Rafi Khedrerian of ATCL advised me to get this car and fight for the FWD category.
I chose a foreign team since I have been fed up with the way things go here. It’s not about money, it has never been an issue and I am very picky with the smallest details, so I got a group of professionals and we are preparing on the highest level. It’s the first time for this car in the Middle East and we hope do well. It’s good for our sponsor to win the FWD and it will a big accomplishment if we enter the top 10.
It’s not reasonable to fight with 4WD cars in this rally. Our maximum potential would 6th 7th in the best cases so I went in the direction of the Clio. Anyway this car is more fun to drive than the group N cars. It’s like a game. In addition to this Chazel is the official team of Renault sport in France. I practiced a bit in France and everything was ok. The team is fully ready on the technical level.
I am here to drive. I have a complete deal including the catering so I don’t have anything to worry about.
How did you prepare on the physical level?
I have done some preparations but not as it should have been. A couple of months ago I was skiing in Faraya and I hurt my knee. I tried my best and anyway I’m not very far from the environment of rallies so I should be ok.
You have a full foreign team to back you up why didn’t you choose a foreign co-driver as well and stayed with Ramy Menhem?
Rally of Lebanon has some special features and has some secrets. You need a co-driver who understands the whole situation in the right way. I didn’t get Ramy just because he is my friends but he is capable of doing a good job. Ramy has experience with Nasser Al Attiyah and is one of the best co-drivers here.
In this rally we have 3 similar cars. 1 with you while the others are with Robert Aaraj and Ghassan Khoury. What can you tell us about this mix?
I didn’t test this car enough to tell you how am I compared to them, but the logic says that I should be very fast and I should extract from this car, enough to be ahead. We prepared well, and if the rally has no competition then there is no pleasure. The guys are very fast but my target is to beat them and win the category.
When we see these amazing preparations we wonder about next year. What are you preparing?
Well in terms of rallies I’m not sure yet, but in terms of the Hill climb championship I will be ready to compete. I have good preparations for Ramman Hill Climb in Jordan and it’s a pitty that Abdo Feghali is not participating. Anyway his record is still there and we are going to try to beat it.
What added value does Dado bring to the Hill Climb?
Honestly Dado is one of the fastest drivers in the region. Alongside him there is only Najjar and me who usually have the right preparations to challenge. Our cars are on another level than the cars with the other guys. The closest rivals are around 5 seconds slower on average.
How did the presence of Ramy and Raouf Menhem help in you being ready with this big package in ROL?
Raouf is the man behind the scenes who managed the whole logistic and financial deal. He works on the highest level and he is very professional. Ramy is half the team. If I don’t have a good co-driver I won’t be able to anything. If Nasser Al-Attiyah doesn’t have a co-driver he can’t do anything too. It’s a combination and Ramy is giving us the right mixture. I am relaxed with Ramy. Sometimes you get the best co-driver in the worlds and you don’t succeed. You never know.
Any last message?
I am honored to be the only competitor participating from Syria. Conditions this year were very difficult but I guess they are on the way to the better. I feel at home here in Lebanon in everything even last year I did my press conference in Lebanon. My friends are here and I love this country.