September 2, 2016 – He’s the founder of one the biggest rally teams in the country, Tony Germany Rally Skills, and he’s got a tough weekend waiting for him during the 39th Rally of Lebanon. We talked to Tony Germany ahead of the rally to find out more about the challenges that his team will face during the longest motorsport event of the year.
Q: It was a season of ups and downs for your team. Eddy Abou Karam is leading the Group N standings, but Rodrigue Rahi and Henry Massaad have had their fair share of problems. Tell us more about your season.
A: Eddy leads the championship despite issues in the first round in Spring Rally when his car’s hood popped open and we still don’t know how that happened. As for Rodrigue, he started out with victory in the first round but had an accident in the second round in Jezzine. We ordered a new gearbox for his car for the Cedars Rally, but it didn’t get here on time and we had to stick with the old one, which we knew would not last till the end, so this is exactly what happened and he was forced to retire. Henry kicked off the season very well by finishing 2nd in RC3 in Spring Rally, but he had an off in Jezzine Rally and retired, while a broken damper in Cedars Rally meant that he had to retire from the lead.
Q: What kind of challenges does Rally of Lebanon present for a team compared to other rounds?
A: Rally of Lebanon is always more challenging, it’s a long rally in which the championship is decided and it’s at the end of a long season. Naturally, the team is bigger with more mechanics and a bigger timing crew and it’s logistically more demanding than the other rallies, requiring a bigger effort from the team.
Q: You have 7 cars in Rally of Lebanon. Do more cars add to the difficulty?
A: We now have 6 cars because Joseph Hindy will not take the start due to work commitments. Of course, more cars make it more difficult because the chances of facing issues and the workload become higher, so you need to be prepared very well and you need to listen to every driver’s feedback in order to better anticipate and solve those issues. It’s all about being well-prepared and well-organized.
A: The target for Eddy and our major target is to push on Saturday in order to secure the title and then take it a bit more easy on Sunday. Rodrigue and Henry share a similar target, which is to take the rally stage by stage and be the fastest in their categories. Emile Abou Karam’s aim is to gain more experience and perhaps prepare for a full season next year, which is Osmat Saifi’s case as well. There’s also Nabil Abdelhak who didn’t have the time to prepare well, but we hope he can do well this weekend.
Q: Let’s assume you’re in situation in which Eddy’s championship has been compromised and you need to enforce team orders to help him secure the title. Would you do it?
A: We talked about this subject as a team and all of our drivers are happy to help Eddy secure the title. Hopefully, it doesn’t come to that, but I think the drivers will comply if it does. I won’t enforce anything on them because I believe they will do it out of goodwill.
Q: You faced a bit of issues in last year’s Rally of Lebanon with Eddy. Did you take any measures to avoid such problems and how can TGRS improve as a team?
A: Thankfully, we never had to face any major issues. Last year, we bought a new gearbox for Eddy’s car ahead of Rally of Lebanon and it was a new brand of gearboxes; it failed and it cost us the championship title and a possible victory in the rally. Other than that, I think his season was free of trouble before that happened.
Motorsport requires a lot of money and investment. You’re going to need a lot of backing and funding if you want to improve in this sport, and you know very well that we’re self-funded. The best way you can improve is to bring in the most advanced cars – R5 cars – into the team. Unfortunately, we can’t afford these cars at the moment.
Q: Who has helped TGRS throughout the season? Who would you like to thank?
A: I would like to thank every single member of the team, the team manager, the drivers and their families. A big thank you to my loving friends who have lent us a helping hand throughout the year, including Emile Azar, Joseph Bechara and Fadi Attieh.