March 27, 2017 – Tamer Ghandour won his first ever Lebanese Rally Championship last year in a phenomenal season that saw him secure his maiden victory in Jezzine Rally followed by another victory in Rally of Lebanon – all in a Mitsubishi Evo X R4. This year, Tamer will race the same car and the aim is to fight for the title once again. Here’s what he told us in a recent interview.
Q: Tamer, tell us about your program for 2017.
A: We will do a full rally season in 2017 onboard the Mitsubishi Evo X R4. We’re also going to compete in the Lebanese Hill Climb Championship on the same car. However, we are probably doing 2 out of 3 Hill Climbs in order to save part of the budget, but we’ll do all 3 of them if necessary. We want to push hard to do a good season and gain maximum points.
Q: You won the Lebanese Rally Championship last year, so the aim for this season shouldn’t be any lower…
A: Yes, we won the Lebanese Rally Championship last year, and this year the target is the same: to win the title. It’s going to be harder because there are more R5 and R4 cars. The Evo X R4 might not be the best car, but it’s still a good car, so we’re going to try our best to finish on the podium and fight for the title. The most important thing is to have fun and enjoy the ride. I think the result is going to be good if we can enjoy ourselves.
Q: How did testing go for you on the Evo X R4? Are you feeling confident with the car?
A: Testing was good. We were more prepared this time last year because the car was new, so we needed more tests. This year, I couldn’t do any tests in winter because of an injured leg, so I only did two tests in March. The homologation rules are very strict, so we don’t have a lot of room to improve the car; we’re working on the setup to feel more confident, but that’s just it.
Q: There are several drivers competing in R5 rally cars this year, which is gonna make things harder for you. Is there a plan to join these drivers anytime soon?
A: Indeed, several drivers have invested in R5 rally cars and that is something to be very happy about. This means that they’re investing in the sport and they believe that it can still thrive and progress. Hopefully, this will attract more people and more sponsors. I think having 3 to 4 R5 cars in a local rally is exceptional and I would like to congratulate the drivers on doing this step.
There is a plan to drive an R5 car in a Hill Climb, just like last year in Baabdat, in order to enjoy and understand the car. However, I don’t think I can compete in an R5 without having more sponsors.
Q: As the Lebanese Rally Champion, were you able to attract more sponsors this year?
A: We have the same sponsors as last year and we’re going to try to attract more sponsors during the season. Unfortunately, the country isn’t in great shape and the sport isn’t a big point of interest, so we have to keep reminding people that this sport exists and that it has a lot of talented people.
Q: Who would you like to thank ahead of the new season?
A: Firstly, I would like to thank my family for its immense support and for bearing with me all the time. Also, I would like to thank my sponsors Beit Misk, Khoury Sanitary, API, Bosch, A to Z Printing, Signs & Beyond, MV Agusta and LR Engineering for believing in me, especially Beit Misk administration which has given me the time to do these rallies although we’re always overloaded with work. Big thank you to Motortune Racing family for the great job they’re doing preparing the car and for making me feel confident behind the wheel.
Special thanks to my co-driver Salim Jleilaty, and last but not least, I want to say thank you to the LBCI for the TV coverage and to all online media. You guys are doing a great job by creating new ideas and covering the sport properly.