MUSCAT, March 25 –
The Oman Automobile Association (OAA) officials have issued a rallying cry to support the struggling Oman Rally Championship and Oman motorsports in general.
The OAA is finding it tough to hold the local rally championship annually and after a break of two years, they are trying to restart the event.
The third round of the Oman Rally Championship was completed on Friday with Zakariya al Aufi and Ammar al Balushi repeating their success in the previous round.
Oman Automobile Association Chairman Brigadier Salim bin Ali al Maskari was very authentic in his narration of the history of motorsport in the Sultanate.
“We have a long history, starting from 1978. It continues to maintain its reputation among those interested in this sport.”
Salim al Maskari said Oman is also blessed with the presence of qualified human crew to manage any tournaments at the regional and international levels.
However, he lamented the lack of support from the corporates or government agencies in conducting the motor sports events in Oman.
“Motorsport is a challenging sport. We need to ensure safety and quality and hence there will be some expenses. The OAA has been left alone on almost every occasion when it comes to organising events. We are finding it hard to stay afloat and afford these expenses without any corporate or government backing,” Al Maskari told Oman Daily Observer.
Suleiman bin Abdullah al Rawahi, General Manager of OAA, echoed the words of the OAA chief.
“We are really serious in bringing back the glory of Oman motorsport. But this needs a collective effort. Not only from us (OAA), but also from the corporate and government sectors along with the enthusiastic fans.”
“Oman has hosted over 26 Middle East Rally Championships, but the scene is not that great now with the OAA struggling even to host the local rally.”
“The expenses have shot up, but we can bring that considerably down with the availability of qualified crew who can manage the regional and international level championships.”
‘MOTORSPORT CAN BOOST TOURISM’
The Sultanate has been trying to boost its tourism by hosting a series of international sports events.
“There will be some initial expenses in hosting the Middle East rally, but it can bring much more returns that boost the country’s tourism and thereby its revenues,” Suleiman al Rawahi said.
Motorsport has been hugely ignored by the Sultanate’s corporate sector also with no sponsors for the 2017-18 Oman Rally Championships. Only some of the teams have managed some sponsors and others are taking expenses from their pockets.
“Across the world, motorsport is involved with sponsorship and lack of it deprives the skilled local drivers of technical support and upgradation.”
“We are at cross roads now and hope for some breakthrough in the terms of financial backing for the events as a whole.”
Al Rawahi said the success of drift drivers and go karting have not come all of a sudden.
“Our success in drifting and go karting have come as a result of the hard work put in by the OAA and others interested in the motorsport.”
Anwar al Zadjali, Chairman of Stewards at the rally, said the event was a success and there were no safety issues.
“Overall, the third round of Oman rally was conducted smoothly. Out of 11 teams, four cars finished and one just missed out due to late arrival as we followed the benchmark for speed strictly,” the International Automobile Federation (FIA) steward said.
He said there were no contestants for the category of ‘T3’ constituted by the OAA for ‘Paji’ cars.
“There was a T3 event happening in the UAE. Most of our T3 drivers were taking part in it. Saif al Harthy, who finished second in Oman rally, is also a T3 driver,” Al Zadjali said.
Overall standings after third round of Oman Rally Championship
(Read as position, driver, car, points)
1. Zakariya al Aufi (Mitsubishi) – 50
2. Faisal al Rashdi (Subaru) – 33
3. Haitham al Hadidi 28
4. Humaid al Waili (Subaru) 27
5. Nizar al Shanfari 25
6. Saif al Harthy (Mitsubishi) 18
7. Elyas Qasim al Zadjali (Subaru) 15
8. Waheeb al Kharusi (Subaru) 12
9. Ghaith al Qassimi (Mitsubishi) 12