SULAYEM CALLS FOR GULF “FREE ZONE” FOR RALLY, RACING DRIVERS
Mohammed Ben Sulayem wants the FIA to sanction a “free zone” for rally and racing drivers in the Gulf to give motor sport in the region a boost at local and international level.
In his new role as President of the Automobile and Touring Club for the UAE, the 14-times Middle East champion is asking motor sport’s world governing body to lift a restriction which holds up drivers eager to compete outside their home country.
Currently, FIA regulations mean that drivers holding competition licences issued by their local motor sport clubs can take part only in rallies, or other motor sport events such as circuit races, staged within their home country.
To be able to contest national events in other Gulf countries they must gain an international competitor’s licence, which is awarded to drivers only after they have competed in a minimum of six local events.
Sulayem wants the FIA to lift the restriction and create a Gulf zone to allow drivers to contest national events in any of the Gulf countries once they have acquired their local competitor’s licence. A northern zone for Lebanon, Jordan, Syria and Cyprus already exists.
Sulayem will make his recommendation in Lebanon next Monday (3rd July) at the annual meeting
of the national motor sport clubs (ASNS) which officially represent the FIA in the Middle East. Also attending the meeting will be Derek Ledger, the FIA’s Vice President.
Gulf Zone 2
“We’re looking for new ways to strengthen the Middle East Championship, and regional motor sport as a whole, and we must do all we can to attract more drivers into the sport, and make it easier for them to compete on a regional basis,” said Sulayem.
“Treating the Gulf area as a zone, rather than having restrictions from country to country, would open up motor sport for more drivers once they get their local competitors’ licence.
“They would be able to compete in national events around the region. And it would become easier, and quicker, for drivers to get their international competitors licence, allowing them to take part in the Middle East Championship and other international events.”
Sulayem took over as President of the new-look ATCUAE in April when it came under the patronage of H.H.Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.
The meeting of the ASNs in Lebanon will be discussing possible new additions to the FIA Middle East Rally Championship calendar, as well as drafting the 2008 calendar.
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 Permits, 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.
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