Roger Feghali teams up with Joseph Matar to seal a record 16th victory at Rally of Lebanon

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45th Rally of Lebanon – September 15th-17th, 2023  -  FIA Middle East Rally Championship, round 4 of 6


  • Al-Attiyah and Baumel crash out of second place on fifth asphalt stage

Roger Feghali teamed up with fellow countryman Joseph Matar to break his own record and seal a 16th victory at the Rally of Lebanon, round four of this year’s FIA Middle East Rally Championship (MERC).

The Lebanese led from the second special stage, won all but one of the 11 timed tests in his Motortune Racing-run Volkswagen Polo GTi Rally2 to finish 3min 46.4sec ahead of Oman’s Abdullah Al-Rawahi and his Jordanian co-driver Ata Al-Hmoud. The success was Matar’s ninth home victory and his eighth sitting alongside Feghali.

Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah and his Andorra-based co-driver Mathieu Baumel won the opening super special and pushed the local crew hard for the next three stages before leaving the road and badly damaging their Autotek Motorsport Volkswagen Polo GTi Rally2 in the fifth special. The Qatari’s retirement means that he now trails Al-Rawahi in the MERC title race heading to the remaining two rounds in Cyprus and Kuwait.

“This is always a challenging and very specialised rally and we knew that Nasser and Mathieu would push us very hard, as always,” said a triumphant Feghali. “Winning my home event is always very special. A big thanks to all the team for their efforts.”

The local Škoda Fabia R5 Rally2 crew of Bassel Abu Hamden and Firas Elias rounded off the top three and Rabih Ayoub and Georges Nadher finished fourth in a similar car.

Elias Dehni and co-driver Amin Akl were fifth in their Citroën DS3 and sixth-placed Raafat Al-Muhtar and Omar Mazkour won the MERC2 section in a Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X but were not registered for MERC points. Shadi El-Fakieh and Samer Sfeir were the highest-placed of the registered MERC2 finishers in eighth overall.

After losing a wheel on the second stage, Meshari Al-Thefiri and Qatari co-driver Nasser Al-Kuwari finished the event near the rear of the field in their Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X but continue to hold a comfortable lead in the Kuwaiti’s push for another FIA MERC2 title.

Action got underway on the 11-stage event being hosted by the Automobile and Touring Club of Lebanon (ATCL) with a 2.52km super special stage late on Friday evening, near Jounieh. Twenty-nine cars were permitted to start, including six in Rally2 and 14 registered for the MERC.

Predictably, the contest developed into a two-way tussle between Al-Attiyah and Feghali from the outset. The Qatari beat his local rival by 0.3 seconds in the opener, before crews tackled two loops of three challenging asphalt special stages on Saturday at Monsef, Ain Aaaya and Sourat.

Feghali hit back strongly, won the opener by 9.3 seconds and extended his advantage to 13.3 in stage three. Feghali’s son Alex and Abdullah Al-Rawahi were the closest challengers to the front-running duo in third and fourth. Feghali finished the morning loop with another fastest time and extended his cushion over Al-Attiyah to 20.6 seconds. MERC2 series leader Al-Thefiri fell by the wayside after shedding a wheel on the second stage.

A high-speed accident which inflicted considerable damage to Al-Attiyah’s Volkswagen sidelined the Qatari on the re-run of Monsef and Autotek Motorsport decided to withdraw the Golf as the result of the incident. Feghali duly claimed the fastest times in stages five, six and seven and reached the night halt with a 2min 47.4sec advantage over second-placed Al-Rawahi. Alex Feghali, Bassel Bou Hamdan and Rabih Ayoub rounded off the top five.

The final leg used repeat runs through the classic tarmac stages of Zandouka and Zabbougha before the finish at the ATCL in Jounieh. Feghali was again quickest in the opener to extend his lead to 2min 56.3sec but his son Alex left the road, his Mitsubishi sustained minor damage but he broke a damper, lost third place and the lead in MERC2.

Feghali’s lead grew to 3min 16.1sec through the ninth stage and there were no late dramas for the Lebanese, who dominated the last pair of timed tests to seal his 16th victory in Lebanon by 3min 46.4sec.

The FIA Middle East Rally Championship continues in Cyprus on October 6th-8th.


45th Rally of Lebanon – result:

1. Roger Feghali (LBN)/Joseph Matar (LBN) Volkswagen Polo GTI Rally2                              1hr 52min 53.4sec*

2. Abdullah Al-Rawahi (OMN)/Ata Al-Hmoud (JOR) Škoda Fabia R5 Rally2                           1hr 56min 39.8sec*

3. Bassel Abu Hamdan (LBN)/Firas Elias (LBN) Škoda Fabia R5 Rally2                                     1hr 57min 35.4sec*

4. Rabih Ayoub (LBN)/Georges Nadher (LBN) Škoda Fabia R5 Rally2                                      2hr 01min 40.7sec

5. Elias Dehni (LBN)/Amin Akl (LBN) Citroën DS3                                                                        2hr 06min 23.7sec*

6. Raafat Al-Muhtar (LBN)/Omar Mazkour (LBN) Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X                            2hr 07min 05.3sec

7. Tarek Younis (LBN)/Salim Jleilaty (LBN) Ford Fiesta R5 Rally2                                             2hr 09min 50.6sec

8. Shadi El-Fakieh (LBN)/Samer Sfeir (LBN) Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X                                      2hr 11min 01.1sec*

9. Charbel Chebly (LBN)/Dolyne Schlink (LBN) Mitsubishi Lancer Evo VIII                             2hr 12min 50.7sec

10. Carl Rizk (LBN)/Karim Abou Elias (LBN) Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X                                       2hr 14min 08.7sec*

11. Ahmad Khaled (LBN)/Joseph Kmeid (LBN) Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X                                 2hr 14min 22.2sec*

Select others

17. Yousef Al-Dhafeeri (KWT)/Carlos Hanna (LBN) Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X                         2hr 26min 26.1sec*      

23. Meshari Al-Thefiri (KWT)/Nasser Al-Kuwari (QAT) Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X                   2hr 59min 53.6sec*

Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah (QAT)/Mathieu Baumel (AND) Volkswagen Polo GTI Rally2                  RETIRED – SS5*

Alex Feghali (LBN)/Marc Haddad (FRA) Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X                                             RETIRED – SS8

*denotes registered drivers for the MERC