sulayem urges middle east rally rivals to end war of words
ATC President making personal plea to Sheikh Khalid, Al-Attiyah
to put differences behind them for the good of rallying
Mohammed Ben Sulayem has called on the UAE’s Sheikh Khalid Al Qassimi and Qatar’s Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah to end their war of words for the good of Middle East rallying.
Sulayem, the 14-times FIA Middle East champion, says an ongoing argument between the two big rivals following the recent Dubai International Rally can only damage the sport’s image in the region.
He will now make personal pleas to both drivers to put their differences behind them and help avoid a repeat of the circumstances under which the Dubai Rally, final round of the 2007 FIA Middle East championship, was brought to a premature end on 1st December.
After 11 of the 14 scheduled special stages, with Al-Attiyah leading Al Qassimi by 36 seconds, the event was stopped because of dangerous circumstances caused by spectator vehicles and public traffic straying onto the rally route.
Victory in the event saw Al-Attiyah retain his Middle East title, but since then the two drivers have been involved in ongoing accusations and innuendo concerning alleged attempts to unfairly affect the outcome of the rally and the championship.
“It’s time for Khalid and Nasser to stop this war of words for the good of rallying in the Middle East,” said Sulayem, President of the Automobile and Touring Club, the rally organisers.
“A lot has been said, but unless someone can come up with some evidence which proves where any blame lies, this matter should be forgotten, and every effort should be made to ensure this sort of thing never happens again.”
“Khalid and Nasser both have a lot to look forward to next year, and in the years ahead, and they could concentrate on their future. I’ll be calling them both to ask them to agree to put this all behind them, focus on their driving, and help ensure the sport’s image here isn’t damaged any further.”
Sulayem said he is so determined to see a peaceful end to the row that until the two drivers agree to forget their differences he is not prepared to confirm that the Dubai International Rally will be run in 2008.
“The decision on whether the rally takes place next year is down to the Dubai Government, and the Automobile and Touring Club as the official representative in the UAE of the FIA, the governing body of motor sport,” said Sulayem.
“Before that happens I want to speak at length with Khalid and Nasser, as well as with some senior FIA officials. Obviously, I’m hoping that the Dubai International Rally will be an important part of the regional calendar for many years to come.”
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