Qatari driver Nasser Saleh Al Attiyah has confirmed his participation in this year’s Rally of Lebanon after skipping last year’s event due to the ban imposed by Qatar on its citizens to visit Lebanon because of the political tensions in the country, but it seems as though Nasser is adamant to take part in the only tarmac rally in the Middle East Rally Championship.
As a reminder, the 36th Rally of Lebanon serves as the fourth round of the 2013 Middle East Rally Championship and will be held between 6 -8 September.
Al Attiyah arrives to Lebanon with three victories this season in Qatar, Kuwait and Jordan, to lead the driver’s championship with a total of 75 points.
A complete athlete, an Olympic shooting medalist and a Dakar champion!
Al Attiyah secured 6 consecutive victories in the championship, specifically starting from last year’s Jordan Rally (11-13 October 2012), followed by a win in Cyprus (2-4 November 2012), Dubai (29 November – 1 December), and this year’s first three rallies.
Whoever watched Al Attiyah score 14 wins out of a possible 23 since 2010 realizes the Qatari’s passion for rallying and speed, especially on special stages and desert dunes where he starred on several occasions in the FIA Cross Country Rally World Cup and the FIA Baja World Cup which he won in 2008.
Al Attiyah’s name and driving talent will no doubt spur the Rally of Lebanon. The Qatari has proven he’s more than a driver, but a complete and one of the best athletes in the Middle East. He knew how to carve his name in the World Rally Championship by winning the Production WRC series in 2006, and then by joining the Citroen World Rally Team last year, followed by a switch to Ford this year with the Qatar World Rally Team with which he has taken three fifth-place finishes in Mexico, Portugal and Greece.
48 Middle East victories and 8 regional titles!
Al Attiyah achieved all of his dreams, bar one dream in particular: winning the Rally of Lebanon. As already mentioned, the Qatari has won the PWRC title in 2006, a bronze medal in Skeet shooting during the 2012 London Olypmics, in addition to a Dakar Rally victory in 2011 with Volkswagen, before deciding to build his own Buggy for this year’s event, with Raouf Menhem’s supervision.
Looking at Nasser’s records, it is easy to realize the importance of what he’s done so far: 48 Middle East victories, making him the second most successful driver in the championship behind 14-time MERC winner Emirati Mohammad Bin Sulayem (60 wins). Al Attiyah has taken the Middle East Rally Championship title 8 times (2003, 2005-2009, 2011, 2012), and it has only slipped away from him twice (In 2004 to Khalid Al Qassimi and 2010 to Misfer Al Marri).
Al Attiyah, who will be taking part in the Rally of Lebanon on a Ford Fiesta RRC, said: “I want to win the Middle East Rally Championship for the ninth time in my career, and I hope I can win all of this year’s rounds; I managed to win the first three in Qatar, Kuwait and Jordan.”
Tackling Rallye Deutschland in preparation for Rally of Lebanon!
Nasser, who’s tackling Rallye Deutschland, the ninth round of the World Rally Championship, continued: “I realize how hard Rally of Lebanon is, which is held on a tarmac surface, especially after skipping last year’s event, however, I am determined to win. I think my participation in Rallye Deutschland, which is also held on tarmac, is the best preparation for the Lebanese event, and I hope I can secure a top 5 result.”
Rallying fans must remember the brilliant fight for the lead between Al Attiyah and Roger Feghali during the 2011 edition of the rally where the Qatari went quickest on 9 special stages, with Feghali eventually taking his ninth victory in the event.