July 28, 2015 – Besides Rally of Lebanon, which was known as “Marlboro Rallye de Montagne” before 1993, Lebanon hosted another prominent rally, the “Rothmans Liban-Syrie” desert rally that covered 3000 kilometers between Lebanon and Syria.
Luckily, a documentary of the 1974 edition of the Lebanon-Syria is available on YouTube, and it shows just how much of a major event it was as it attracted many drivers from countries such as Finland, Italy, France and Kuwait, including 1983 World Rally Champion Hannu Mikkola and current FIA president Jean Todt, who navigated Mikkola at the grueling event, which some drivers described as “tougher than Moroccan Desert Rally” and “more demanding than the East African Safari.”
Lebanese driver Joe Hindy won the 1974 event in a Renault, beating local and international drivers who competed in a variety of cars from different manufacturers including Porsche, Audi, BMW, Volvo, Datsun, Jensen and Toyota.
The Lebanon-Syria Rally was being considered for an inclusion in the World Rally Championship, but that never happened as war broke out in Lebanon in 1975; and with the current situation in Syria, it’s highly unlikely that we’ll ever see a revival of the event in the near future, but one can only hope.
Enjoy the great documentary in the couple of videos below.