Stage set for Jordan Rally showdown as event gets underway at the Dead Sea

Sports Friday 17/May/2024 08:10 AM
By: Times News Service
Stage set for Jordan Rally showdown as event gets underway at the Dead Sea

DEAD SEA: The Jordan Rally got underway with a ceremonial start and the spectacular backdrop of the Dead Sea on Thursday evening.

Twenty-four cars (16 FIA and eight National) and competitors from nine countries will tackle 15 demanding special stages in the Jordan Valley and Dead Sea areas over the next two days to determine the outcome of round two of the FIA Middle East Rally Championship (MERC).

Abdullah Al-Rawahi is the defending Jordanian national champion and the winner of last year’s MERC event in the Hashemite Kingdom. He is the second seed this weekend behind 19-time regional champion Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah and is quietly confident that he can progress his title defence this weekend.

Al-Rawahi said: “We finished the recce. Overall, they are amazing stages here and really tough. We tested a few days ago to make sure everything is okay. The team has worked really hard to give me the best car I can have for this rally. Nasser is a fantastic driver. Hopefully we can battle and have a good pace.

“Last year, Nasser had a problem but we have a better car this year. I think the main focus is to be really careful and be fast at the same time. Let’s see what happens on the first day.”

Al-Attiyah retired from the opening round in Qatar trying to push for additional points on the final Power Stage but the Qatari will be hoping to give his new Škoda Fabia RS a winning debut in Jordan.

Al-Attiyah said: “This is always one of the favourite rallies for all the drivers. The organisers have done a good job to build the stages. We try to enjoy this race and to win. I am actually happy to share the title last year with Abdullah. He’s improved every race and this is what we need for the Middle East. We are looking for more drivers to compete at this level.

“Last year, we got a few problems and finished second but this year is completely different. We try to be clever with the new Škoda Fabia. We make a good test, 30km. I like the car a lot. Abdullah has more points than me but, if you look at the Dakar Rally, I had no points from there either and I am now leading the World Championship (W2RC) and I won the last two races. I need to be clever for this race - maximum points - and then Lebanon, Cyprus and Oman.”

Jordan Motorsport hosted the official pre-event press conference on the podium prior to the ceremonial start ceremony. Al-Rawahi and Al-Attiyah were joined by the Qatari duo of Abdulaziz Al-Kuwari and Khalid Al-Suwaidi and a quartet of leading Jordanian drivers – Bader Al-Fayez, Shaker Jweihan, Shadi Shaban and Husam Salim.

Al-Fayez will be using a Rally2 Škoda for the second time, having acquired the car from Ireland and used it for the first time at a recent national rally.

Lebanon’s Ahmad Khaled and Oman’s Zakariya Al-Aamri were late withdrawals from the original entry list.

Tomorrow (Friday), the Mount Nebo area hosts the opening Panorama and Bahath stages before competitors return to the Dead Sea area to complete the morning’s loop with a pass through the Baptism Site special, named after the famous biblical location situated close by.

A lunchtime service precedes a repeat run through each of the three speed tests and a short blast through a 3.3km super special at the Dead Sea to round off the day’s proceedings from 16.35hrs.

This year's event is supported by Zain Jordan, Guarantee Travel Group, Hala and Bliss FM.

2024 Jordan Rally – official start list:

1. Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah (QAT)/Giovanni Bernacchini (POL) Škoda Fabia RS Rally2

2. Abdullah Al-Rawahi (OMN)/Ata Al-Hmoud (JOR) Škoda Fabia Rally2

3. Abdulaziz Al-Kuwari (QAT)/Marshall Clarke (GBR) Škoda Fabia RS Rally2

4. Nasser Khalifa Al-Atya (QAT)/Ziad Chehab (LBN) Ford Fiesta Mk II Rally2

5. Khalid Al-Suwaidi (QAT)/Ross Whittock (GBR) Škoda Fabia RS Rally2

6. Denis Krotov (KGZ)/Yury Kulikov (CYP) Škoda Fabia Evo Rally2

7. Bader Al-Fayez (JOR)/Joseph Matar (LBN) Škoda Fabia Rally2

8. Shaker Jweihan (JOR)/Carlos Hanna (LBN) Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X

9. Shadi Shaban (JOR)/Samer Issa (JOR) Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX

10. Issa Abu Jamous (JOR)/Emad Juma (JOR) Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX

11. Ameer Nassif (JOR)/Mustafa Juma (JOR) Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX

12. Hamada Odeh (PLE)/Yazan Juma (JOR) Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X

13. Husam Salim (JOR)/Nancy Al-Majali (JOR) Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X

14. Fadi Dahshan (JOR)/Zeid Abu Zeid (JOR) Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX

17. Ihab Al-Shurafa (JOR)/Yousef Juma (JOR) Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX

18. Shadi Al-Fakih (LBN)/Samer Sfeir (LBN) Renault Clio R5

2024 Jordan National Rally – official start list:

19. Salamah Al-Gammaz (JOR)/Fayez Al-Gammaz (JOR) Mitsubishi Lancer Evo VI

21. Asem Aref (JOR)/Ahmad Jankhot (JOR) Subaru Impreza WRX STi

22. Amjad Al-Shaikh (JOR)/Jad Nabas (JOR) Subaru Impreza WRX STi

23. Bader Al-Helalat (JOR)/Amer Mousa (JOR) Subaru Impreza

24. Hashem Kalbouneh (JOR)/Maher Al-Fukaha (JOR) Black Iris

25. Al-Hasan Khatib (JOR)/Hamdan Al-Awamleh (JOR) Toyota FJ

27. Hasan Al-Keid (PLE)/Ameer Jsibi (PLE) BMW Buggy

29. Mahmoud Al-Jabbarin (PLE)Yousef Mlaihat (PLE) Hyundai Buggy