SULAYEM BACKS JORDAN’S WRC CAMPAIGN - Kingdom deserves place in World Rally Championship, says Sulayem as he heads for Amman to support RACJ bid
Mohammed Ben Sulayem is backing Jordan’s bid to win a place in the World Rally Championship and deliver another boost for motor sport in the Middle East.
The Arab world’s top motor sport figure flies to Amman on Thursday to offer his personal support for moves to take the Jordan International Rally into next year’s WRC calendar.
Sulayem, the new President of the Automobile and Touring Club for the UAE, won the event a record 12 times during a career which brought him 14 Middle East rally titles, and he believes the Jordan Rally deserves a WRC call-up.
He plans to deliver a personal pledge of support to HM King Abdullah II, Patron of the Royal Automobile Club of Jordan, before the 2006 Jordan International Rally gets under way on Thursday afternoon under the scrutiny of the FIA, motor sport’s world governing body.
The event is being assessed by an official FIA observer as a candidate for a place in the 2007 World Rally Championship.
“It has been one of the top events in the FIA Middle East Championship over the years and deserves to be considered for the WRC,” said Sulayem, who scored his first of 60 international rally wins in the event in 1984.
“On behalf of the ATCUAE I’m offering every support we can give to the Royal Automobile Club of Jordan. If the Jordan Rally is included in next year’s WRC calendar Middle East motor sport as a whole benefits.”
Sulayem, who will be meeting RACJ chairman HRH Prince Faisal in Amman, is eager to encourage closer cooperation between the region’s automobile clubs to win additional FIA recognition for the Middle East.
He created the region’s first top flight motor sport event, the UAE Desert Challenge, which is a round of both the FIA Cross Country Rally World Cup and the FIM Cross Country Rallies World Championship. He also played an important role in bringing Formula One racing to Bahrain as advisor to the Crown Prince, H.H. Shaikh Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, in negotiations with the FIA.
In Jordan he will be reunited with two friends from his own WRC days, multiple former FIA World Rally Champion Tommi Mäkinen and Spaniard Luis Moya, who guided Carlos Sainz to two WRC titles in a 14-year co-driving career and is now Sporting Director of the Subaru World Rally Team. Sulayem will also be offering his support to the three leading UAE challengers in Jordan, Sheikh Khalid Al Qassimi, Sheikh Suhail bin Khalifa Al Maktoum and Sheikh Abdulla Al Qassimi.
The 2006 Jordan International Rally starts on Thursday afternoon at the Citadel, overlooking downtown Amman, and the competitive action takes place over 18 timed special stages on Friday and Saturday in the Dead Sea and Rumman areas.
The Automobile and Touring Club for the UAE has been an affiliated member of the Federation Internationale de L'Automobile (FIA), the world governing body of all motor sports, since 1965.
The ATCUAE is the only organisation which is authorised by the FIA to supervise motor sport events and issue competitor licences in the UAE. It is also the only FIA authorised organisation in the UAE to issue International Driving Licences, as well as Carnet de Passage en Douane (Trip Tickets) and International Certificates which simplify customs formalities for motoring tourists and travellers.
The ATCUAE, which has offices in Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah and Al Ain, has been an affiliated member of Alliance Internationale de Tourisme (AIT) since 1973. The AIT is the leading and most successful international body concerned with motoring, touring road assistance services and outdoor leisure.