The Chairman of Salam International (Salam), Issa Abdul Salam Abu Issa (middle), Vice Chairman, Hussam Abdul Salam Abu Issa (third right), Board Members, Bassam Abdul Salam Abu Issa (right), and Jassim Mohammed Abdulghani Al Mansouri (third left), are seen with Qatar’s Dakar Rally heroes Nasser Saleh Al Attiyah (fourth left), Sebastian Husseini (second right) and Mohammed Abu Issa (fourth right). The Chief Guest of the evening was the President of Qatar Motor and Motorcycle Federation (QMMF) Nasser bin Khalifa Al Attiyah (second left), who also is the Vice President of FIA and FIM. PICTURE: SALIM MATRAMKOT
DOHA: Salam International Investment Ltd (SIIL) yesterday feted Qatar’s 2014 Dakar Rally heroes Nasser Saleh Al Attiyah, Mohamed Abu Issa and his team-mate in the Maxxis Super B Team Sebastian Husseini at a special gathering.
The Chief Guest of the event was FIA and FIM Vice President Nasser bin Khalifa Al Attiyah, who is also the chief of Qatar Motor and Motorcycle Federation (QMMF).
The gathering at the iconic Gate Mall was also attended by Issa AbdulSalam Abu Issa, Chairman and CEO of SIIL along with other distinguished guests.
Qatar’s top rally driver Nasser Saleh finished 3rd in the car category at Dakar Rally last week.
Following closely, Mohamed Abu Issa, sponsored by SIIL, secured 1st place in the Rookie Qualification and earned the respect of the sporting world by finishing fourth in his first ever Dakar attempt. Issa’s team-mate Husseini finished in 3rd place in the quad category.
The Dakar rally began on January 5, 2014 and competition ran for 14 consecutive days, traversing a distance of more than 8,700km in three countries: Argentina, Bolivia and Chile.
The Dakar Rally is renown for being one of the world’s toughest rallies, where riders compete off-road on craggy terrains and through high sand dunes, not to mention the long and elevated distances inside Bolivia, which rise to 4,000m above sea level, throwing an extra burden on the contestants’ shoulders.
Commenting at the special event, SIIL’s Deputy COO AbdulSalam Abu Issa said: “We are delighted to be honoring these sportsmen who have brought honor to Qatar. We are delighted that Mohamed has risen straightaway to capture the attention at Dakar, this being his very first bid. SIIL’s trust in the Maxxis Super B Team has been well rewarded with Sebastian’s 3rd place win and Mohamed’s 4th place victory. As always SIIL celebrates the achievements of all Qatari sportsmen and we are glad to be able to honour renown rally ace Nasser Saleh Al Attiyah.”
Al Attiyah, the QMMF President, said: “We strongly believe in recognising our champions and we are very pleased with these achievements we are celebrating here today. Our riders and drivers can always count on the unwavering commitment of QMMF. We not only focus on the talent we have but we are also seeking to attract new talent. But above all we want our winners to know we value them and we join hands with sponsors such as SIIL, who boldly come forward to develop motor sports in Qatar.”
Nasser Saleh said: “I am very pleased to be present not just to celebrate the good performances but also to encourage the younger generation of sportsmen, who have a whole future ahead of them.”
In a response to question from the media, Abu Issa talked about the tough competition and the challenges they overcame as they rode across incredibly tough terrain.
“The competition was so fierce and the track was awfully hard, that we witness one car and two bikes burn up. In conditions like that its easy to come close to quitting. We also faced what is called the Marathon,” Abu Issa said.
“On those two days of the marathon, we’re not allowed to come back to the camp to have our quads repaired or even get fresh clothes. We had to sleep in a camp away from the maintenance team, therefore we had to be careful while racing in order not to ruin our quads. Anyway we are glad we did well.
“On the second day I got lost for a little over an hour and I had to race with flat tyres for 150km on rocks in the mountains, then continued on a sandy road for 50km until I reached the camp and got my quad fixed. It was tough but we made it,” he added.
Husseini lauded Abu Issa’s sportsmanship by saying: “I participated last year in this rally, but this year I was competing to win. The first four to five days were hard mainly because I believe the organisers wanted the contestants who cannot survive hard conditions to fall out quickly.”
He added: “On the fifth day, I had a mechanical failure, which would put me out of the race completely. Mohammed came along, put a rope and pulled me 80km in the desert and 150km on a mountain road. It was 45 degrees Celsius. He sacrificed his time to help me and get me back to the camp to repair my quad.”
Husseini said: “I was about to quit, because we drove from 5:30am until 11:30pm, with barely no food and only water. I really appreciated what Mohammed did for me. The second week was easier because it was a desert race in Bolivia and Chile and we’re used to such racing conditions in the Middle East.”