Tony this is your first event this year. Why did you choose to race only ROL?
It’s all about the sponsors. We did not have the budget to compete in all rallies this season. As you know sponsoring has become a very hard issue and you only get some help from few people you know. We are fighting hard to get more backup, but after all you end up putting a lot of money from your own pocket. I chose ROL because I work abroad and for it be worth the visit I chose to keep all my vacation and off days I can do this rally.
Ziad Chehab will be co-driving with you in ROL 2011. He is one of the most experienced co-drivers in the country. We saw you testing together, how does the first sighs look?
He is great. He is helping me a lot. Everything is going cool and smooth. After all I’m not fighting for the championship, but I have a very experienced co-driver, with a great history.
Why are you driving a car prepared by Philipe Kazan?
I started with Philipe in 2007 and it was great. Without Philipe I cannot do the rally. He is helping me a lot and other teams usually demand bigger budgets. Anyway it’s a mutual benefit situation. It’s great if his car reaches the finish line and, if he helps to do a good result its better and better.
What’s your realistic target?
Top 10. Let’s say 7,8,9 or 10.
Who will be your direct competitors?
In the 4WD, maybe Chafic Boulos who is like a brother to me. Maybe, Henry Massad who was very fast on 2WD. I’m not really sure.
So people like Tamer Ghandour will be difficult to match?
Yes for sure, these drivers are further away on another level. People like Roger, Nasser, Abdo, Nick are in another world. Then we have Ziad Feghali, Tamer and Amiouni. We will be fighting for positions behind these drivers. I hope we stay safe and we have good rally. The Rally of Lebanon is a very long rally and it needs patience and calmness and let’s hopes for the best.
Is there any difference for you between night and day stages?
Well at the night stages you cannot push as much as the day stages. I think it’s a nice challenge and will enjoy it. I don’t know why the guys were complaining on this issue at the beginning of the year but I think its ok because there are only 4 stages and it will be very challenging as I said.
They are very interesting and need much more focus. At the day stages you see more road details but anyway all the rallies around the world are sometimes done at night so there is no problem. If you have prepared the right pace notes, you will enjoy it. After all this is rallying.
Any last message?
I want to thank my sponsor, www.streetkings.com who stood by my side in Cedars Rally 2009 and this time again in ROL. I would like to thank Med Gulf who stood by me from 2005. I would like to thank EUROL who is helping us as a team. I would like to send a message for all sponsors to put more faith in the sport, especially now with the presence of online media and Facebook. It’s different from the past especially with the exposure, and you don’t need to wait for newspapers and magazines anymore. I hope we can find more support to compete in more events next year.