“The Compass” (re-written)
In 1919, some notable aristocrats grouped and established an association with the sole intention of promoting for the “Automobile”.
A “Touring Club Syro-libanais” was found in 1919, as a subdivision of the “Touring Club de France” (TCF). Afterward, “It was decided unanimously to give the association the name of Touring Club of Syria and Lebanon. It is affiliated with the Touring Club de France” as quoted by the newspaper “La Syrie” dated May 7th, 1920. It was the first in the Middle East.
The founding fathers, then, had but only one objective in mind, and that was the same of the TCF; “to develop tourism in all its forms”. Thus, setting the compass.
During that era, motoring activities was a luxurious item performed by few wealthy people.
When it became more popular, the need of joining international regulating bodies had risen; thereupon, the Automobile et Touring Club du Liban (ATCL) joined up with both the “Alliance Internationale de Tourisme” (AIT) and the “Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile” (FIA) in the year 1933. Hence, verifying the compass settings.
Save for car tours to Europe, Asia and Africa, the ATCL set forth the motorsports events in the Middle East. They became the “Pioneers”.
The first Hill-Climb, in many to be organised, was run in 1951. The event of the year 1956 was won by the belated, his majesty king Hussein of Jordan; may his soul rest in peace.
The first “Rally of Lebanon” formerly known as “Rallye de Montagne” goes back to 1968, 1,000 Km of Lebanese roads and 57 cars among which 14 international drivers characterised the start of Rallies history in the region.
Accordingly, they were the first in applying new rules and/or ideas; vehicles groups, service parks, Super Special Stages, same with dual tracks, safety measurements, reallocating of night special stages, etc …, and, the list continues. Nevertheless, they always will.
Contemplation and perseverance have rewarded them with WRC candidacy, yet but not fate.
The azimuth might change but not compass settings. It is still.
Hundred years have passed since the founders had set a pace towards excellence, today their successors are endeavoring their momentum into higher aims and are targeting superior standings around the Globe.
It was written in the book of Genesis that upon each act of creation following each day of the six, God Almighty “saw that it was good”; likewise, “and he rested on the seventh day from all the work that he had done in creation”. But, He IS God; He Is Perfect. Even that did not stop few dissenting voices from being heard; even angels had long turned into demons.
We, human beings, are incomplete so, some of us reward themselves, among many things, with a sip of brandy and a premium Cuban cigar; … then we run back to the books and the drawing boards.
This year, the Rally of Lebanon, like always, will evidence the controversy between man and machine which defies all kinds of rallying definitions. That will be demonstrated in 231kms of special stages divided into two legs, of which 91kms will be run Sunday September1st, without service.
In commemorating the Centennial of the Automobile and Touring Club of Lebanon, the 42nd Rally of Lebanon will commence with a super special stage that will be held on Friday August 30th, 2019, in its premises in Kaslik, Jounieh.
Ten challenging special stages with slippery tarmac, one Service Park positioned in Jounieh, two Remote Refuelling Zones located in Yarita and in Hammana, and altitudes varying from 300 metres to 1836 meters, make the 42nd Rally of Lebanon the most demanding event in the Middle East Rally Championship.
Yet, as others did before, you cannot but fall in love with it.
In the name of the Organising Committee, I cannot but thank all those who backed us, be it physically or morally, our sponsors among many others as well as the Automobile and Touring Club of Lebanon.
Personally, I owe a word of gratitude, and I pay tribute to all the volunteers; be it that Marshal, whom without we cannot run our event, Stage Commanders, Officials, Organising Committee members; also to the Secretariat, …, Gaby, Soly, and Imad … to all I say “THANK YOU”.
Welcome all, push the envelope and enjoy the thrilling action.
Fady Y. Aoun
Organising Committee – Chairman
42nd Rally of Lebanon