September 13, 2016 – Tony Germany Rally Skills endured a seasons of ups and downs in 2016, but it ended happily for the team in Rally of Lebanon with their driver Eddy Abou Karam claiming the Lebanese Rally Championship Group N title, a year after his team-mate Rodrigue Rahi had taken it.
Beside Eddy, TGRS’s other full-timers this year were Rodrigue Rahi in a Mitsubishi Evo IX and Henry Massad in a Renault Clio R3T – both of whom had a troubled season that saw them on the podium and out of the competition two occasions.
TGRS were off to a good start in the first round of the season – the Spring Rally – as Rodrigue and Henry climbed on the podium. Rodrigue managed to win in Group N, while Henry finished 2nd in the RC3 category. Eddy was doing quite well in the Mitsubishi Evo X before a mechanical problem slowed him down and dropped him to 6th in Group N. Nabil Abdelhak was part of the team as well, bringing his Evo X home despite facing mechanical issues.
Jezzine Rally was another bittersweet event for TGRS. This time, it was Eddy Abou Karam who finished on the podium with 2nd place in Group N, whilst Rodrigue and Henry retired. Joseph Hindy delivered a fine performance in his only participation this year, completing the event in 4th place in Group N in his Mitsubishi Evo X. Osmat Saifi returned to rallying after spending some time away from the sport and was able to fulfill his target of reaching the finish line onboard his Mitsubishi Evo IX.
The happy/sad affair for TGRS continued in the third round in the Cedars as Eddy Abou Karam improved on his Jezzine Rally result by securing 3rd place overall and 2nd in Group N to take hold of the Group N championship lead by a comfortable margin. However, Rodrigue and Henry’s chances of competing for the title in their categories took another hit, with both of them retiring for the second consecutive time.
TGRS’s targets for the fourth and final round, Rally of Lebanon, were quite clear: The aim for Eddy was to win the championship title and push for victory in Group N. Meanwhile, Rodrigue and Henry had their eyes on the golden prize in their categories.
The full-time trio was joined by Nabil Abdelhak, Osmat Saifi and Emile Abou Karam in Rally of Lebanon, meaning TGRS had to work on 6 cars in the toughest event of the year. Nabil, Osmat and Emile – all in Group N cars – shared a similar aim and that was to finish the event ranked as high as possible.
Success came halfway into Rally of Lebanon, with Eddy Abou Karam securing his first ever Lebanese Rally Championship Group N title after finishing the first leg, before going all out in the second leg to claim 2nd place in Group N behind his class-winning team-mate Rodrigue who ended up 2nd overall after a faultless performance. Henry Massaad climbed on the podium for the second time this season following a great drive to 2nd place in RC3. Nabil and Osmat checked off their targets by crossing the finish line. The only hiccup for TGRS came in the form of a mechanical failure for Emile that forced him out of the rally.
However, unexpected drama unfolded after the event as Rodrigue Rahi was excluded from the final classification for having old-specification shock absorbers on his Evo IX that did not meet the regulations. Ironically, it was Eddy who benefited most from the situation by inheriting the Group N class triumph and moving up to 3rd place overall. The Group N title was not Eddy’s sole achievement this year as he finished runner-up in the overall championship standings, while co-driver Joseph Kmeid won the Lebanese Rally Championship title for Co-Drivers.
Although things didn’t go their way on every occasion, TGRS signed off the season having collected plenty of podiums and a second consecutive Group N title – the perfect reward for their resolution and hard work.