ATCUAE chief delivers FIA letter, holds talks with Nissan President and CEO, Carlos Ghosn
Mohammed Ben Sulayem is hoping that a flying visit he made to the Nissan headquarters in Japan may help lure the manufacturer back into the FIA Cross Country Rally World Cup, the series which reaches its annual climax in the UAE.
Sulayem, President of the Automobile and Touring Club for the UAE, had lengthy discussions with senior Nissan executives, including the company’s President and CEO, Carlos Ghosn, and high on the agenda was Nissan’s involvement in the FIA World Cup series.
During his recent week-long visit to Japan, Sulayem delivered a letter from Derek Ledger, the FIA’s Vice President, Sport, and President of the Cross Country Rallies Commission, urging Nissan to re-enter an official factory team in the Cross Country Rally World Cup after a two-year absence.
“This was one of the many issues I discussed with Nissan in Japan, and it was an extremely interesting and worthwhile visit,” said Sulayem, who launched the UAE Desert Challenge in 1991 and has made it into an event which sets the standard for World Cup rallies.
“During the time I spent with Carlos Ghosn we talked a great deal about motor sport in the Middle East, and of course about Nissan’s loyal support over the years for the Desert Challenge,” added Sulayem.
“Like Nakheel, Nissan are a now a well established partner who not only help us to make the event happen every year, but work with us to plan its future development. We’re working to reinforce these partnerships for the benefit of motor sport overall.”
Sulayem joined Ghosn for a test drive in the Nissan GTR. He also visited the Nissan design centre with Simon Sproule, Corporate Vice-President, Global Communications Nissan Motor Co. Ltd.
Sulayem also had discussions with senior members of the Nissan design team regarding the new generation Nissan Patrol, and modifications planned for the Middle East market.
“I’ve spent a lot of time driving and testing cars over the years,” said the 14 times Middle East rally champion. “I hope the feedback I’ve given has helped to make cars better, and safer and I’m always ready to offers my input to Nissan, particularly on the design and development of vehicles for the Middle East.”
Nissan Middle East has sponsored the UAE Desert Challenge for the last three years, and the Nissan Patrol is the rally’s official car. As part of the sponsorship agreement, a fleet of Nissan Patrols is put at the disposal of the rally organsing committee, of which Sulayem is Chairman.