Mohammed Ben Sulayem has returned to the scene of his first international rally triumph 23 years ago to support Jordan’s dress rehearsal for its entry into the World Rally Championship.
Sulayem, President of the Emirates Automobile and Touring Club, happily accepted an official invitation from HRH Prince Feisal Al Hussein, Chairman of Jordan Motorsport, to attend the Jordan Rally which gets under way with a ceremonial launch in Amman tomorrow (Thursday).
The 14-times FIA Middle East rally champion had flown to Amman 12 months earlier topersonally support Jordan’s WRC bid, and he was delighted when the event was confirmed on next year’s WRC calendar.
“The Jordan Rally has been one of the top events in the FIA Middle East Championship over the years and deserves its place in the World Rally Championship,” said Sulayem, who scored his first of more than 60 international rally wins in the event in 1984.
“I’m very happy to be returning to Jordan at the invitation of Prince Feisal to watch this year’s rally, and see how plans are progressing for the event’s WRC debut next year. This is another exciting development for Middle East motor sport.”
Added Sulayem: “This rally always seemed to bring out the best in me as a driver, and I have always felt very comfortable when visiting Jordan. I’ve made so many friends here over the years and have been fortunate to have enjoyed a very warm relationship with the Royal family.Jordan Rally 2
“HM King Hussein had a great passion for motor sport, which is shared by HM King Abdullah, and it was their drive and enthusiasm which ultimately led to Jordan having a World Championship Rally.”
Sulayem 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.