Motorsports is indisputably his passion! Youssef Koussaify started watching motorsports events and following them at the early age of 10. His active involvement finally began in 2001 as a team coordinator, eventually becoming a team manager. He had the opportunity to work alongside the most professional Rally Team in the Middle East and with one of the most talented and fastest drivers in the Middle East.
Youssef discussed motorsports with Fit'n Style Magazine, with a focus on the Motortune team.
What is Motortune and how was it born?
Motortune is the only complete native motorsports team in the Middle East. Management, engineers, and mechanics are all Lebanese. All cars are built completely in Lebanon and run in the Middle East Rally Championship. Other teams competing in the Middle East are either foreign, or they buy prepared cars and run them in the championship. At Motortune, it is all local and we are always able to compete at the highest levels and challenge for the win in all participations. The entire story started with Roger Feghali in 1996 when he first wanted to start competing himself. He had returned to Lebanon after studying Electro-Mechanical engineering abroad and wanted to start competing. That was the birth of his dream: Motortune. Soon he was able to win all races and championships in Lebanon in the following year, marking the growth of this dream; this dream became big enough to hold the dreams of many other motorsports enthusiasts such as myself. We dream of having a world level racing team, and this is what Motortune is becoming day after day.
What is the main purpose of Motortune?
The purpose of Motortune is to compete in many championships and try to achieve positive results. Starting in the Lebanese Rally Championship in 1996, Motortune is now winning all the Lebanese Motorsports events, expanding to the region and Middle East Championship. What distinguishes Motortune is not only the successful running and car performances, but also how it helps young drivers improve their driving skills and become champions. Emerging talents include Nicholai Georgiou, Tamer Ghandour, Nicolas Amiouni, and Chafic Boulos.
Tell us more about the team’s achievements.
Team achievements are very big, winning the Lebanese Rally Championship 13 times, Lebanese Hill Climb Championship 7 times, Lebanese Speed Test Championship 5 times, Middle East Hillclimb Challenge 4 times, winning all Jordan Local Rallies in the last 3 years, winning Rally of Lebanon with Roger Feghali 10 times, winning the Gr.N Category of Jordan WRC rally in 2011, along with many other achievements. In brief, it is the most successful Motortsports team in the Middle East.
What can you say about Lebanese motorsports? Are new driving talents important to make this sport continue?
Unfortunately, Lebanese motorsports is suffering and is on the decline. We continuously witness new drivers emerging, and organizers are putting out great effort in the organization. However, we lack the proper planning to market this sport and make it a desirable product for sponsors. There isn't any real support for the drivers, and it is an expensive sport.
We are witnessing the emergence of new rising talents such as Nicolas Amiouni, Tamer Ghandour, Chafic Boulos...who can reach high levels - but we see many of them stopping because of the lack of sponsors. In neighboring countries, we see the motorsports authority or the government arranging sponsors for the young drivers to push them forward.
Promoting motorsports can be a bit challenging. What can you suggest so that people become more interested in racing events and rally in particular?
We need to change the mentality governing the sport. A strategic plan should be set on how to get the sport to a higher level. For this to be achieved, work should be done on 4 different levels:
- The sport should be brought to where the crowds are. We can organize small events which can be done in closed areas in crowded and main cities at peak times, and in a spectator friendly atmosphere in terms of proximity. This will help us attach the spectators to the sport, which will make it easier for us to get a greater number of spectators to rallies and hill climb events held on the mountain roads.
- The motorsports calendar should be broadened and more spectacular events should be created, mixed with entertainment. These types of events are very appealing to mass crowds. This sport has something appealing to each individual, whereas when only sticking to rallies and professional events, they are appealing to fewer people.
- Motorsports should be promoted in the right way in order to make it more appealing to sponsors and media. If media finds it to be a very attractive product, it will give it wider coverage.
- The organizing club in Lebanon is already on a very high level in the organization of events from the technical side. So we already have this aspect covered to a large extent.
If we are able to work on achieving good results at those levels, I believe it would be very easy to make this sport rise high again and get sponsors interested. Advertising in motorsports guarantees very big exposure with a relatively low cost. But in order to attract sponsors, we should make a well-desired product by the mass population. If we can just look at what late President Antoine Choueiry achieved in basketball in early 90s; he worked on all the different aspects of the sport to make it an appealing product, and he succeeded. Motorsport already has more enthusiasts than any other sport in Lebanon.
All the best to Motortune Team!