MERC Regional rally stars check Dead Sea route for Jordan Rally

2009 Jordan Rally
FIA Middle East Rally Championship, round 7

For immediate release
Tuesday, October 27th, 2009




·        Qatar’s Al-Attiyah and Al-Marri face Saudi’s Al-Rajhi in three-way title battle


DEAD SEA (Jordan): The Middle East’s leading rally stars began their final preparations for the 2009 Jordan Rally, the penultimate round of the FIA Middle East Rally Championship, on Tuesday morning.


Teams are permitted to pass through the special stages that constitute the route format over a two-day period. They must adhere to strict speed limits laid down by the FIA, not stray off the course and also carry out their reconnaissance in a strict format. Overseeing the nature of the terrain is crucial to the leading teams, especially where fractions of a second can be crucial in the heat of high-speed battle.


The event gets underway with the opening ceremony in the Abdoun Circle area of Amman from 3pm on Thursday afternoon, with the competitive action taking place over 18 timed special stages on Friday and Saturday in the Dead Sea, Mount Nebo and Suwayma areas of the Hashemite Kingdom.


The regional rally series may well have reached its low point in terms of altitude – rally headquarters at the Jordan Valley Marriott Spa and Resort is situated 400 metres below sea level – but the action on the gravel tracks is likely to be fierce, as Qatar’s Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah and Misfer Al-Marri are joined by Saudi Arabia’s Yazeed Al-Rajhi in a three-way battle to decide the destiny of this year’s regional championship title.


With the formalities of the FIA Production World Rally Championship now behind him, Al-Attiyah can spend the next five weeks concentrating his efforts on winning the regional rally series for the sixth time in seven years. The Qatari heads into this weekend’s Jordan showdown with 30 championship points, amassed by taking three dominant victories in Qatar, Kuwait and Cyprus.


Had Al-Attiyah been able to take part in the Syrian and Lebanese rounds of the series, the outcome may well have been decided already, but the Qatari is also an integral member of Volkswagen’s cross-country rally team and has commitments in other areas throughout the season.


“I can now concentrate my efforts 100% on winning the event this weekend,” said Al-Attiyah, who already has 32 MERC wins under his belt. “I am looking forward to the Dakar Rally in January with Volkswagen, but the next two rallies are in the Middle East, in Jordan and Dubai, and I want to end the season with two victories and the championship title.”


Misfer Al-Marri stayed in contention for his first regional title by scoring eight priceless points in the recent Troodos Rally. The Qatari has never won a round of the championship and remains in the shadow of his countryman, but Misfer is a capable driver who will leave nothing to chance in his final preparations for this weekend’s Jordanian extravaganza. Al-Marri benefits from the experience of Ulsterman Chris Patterson, who leads the FIA Middle East Co-Drivers’ Championship.


Al-Rajhi won his first round of the series in Syria back in June, but the Saudi blotted his copybook with two mistakes in Cyprus earlier this month and lost his championship lead to the flying Al-Attiyah. Al-Rajhi has the pace to match Al-Attiyah on the stages, but will need to keep his natural exuberance restrained this weekend. A non-finish could cost him dearly and he needs to take the fight to the final round in Dubai by keeping the pressure on Al-Attiyah.


Quite simply, a win for Al-Attiyah and a non-finish for both Al-Marri and Al-Rajhi would hand Al-Attiyah the championship title. Podium finishes for all three would take the fight to the final round in Dubai, although Al-Attiyah will be the firm favourite to retain the title if he can stay ahead of the chasing pair this week in Jordan.



For further media information:
2009 Jordan Rally Media Office, Sunrose 2 Hall, Ground Floor, Jordan Valley Marriott Spa and Resort, Dead Sea, Jordan, Mobile: + 962 79 612 5831, E-mail: media@jordanrally.com or ndppublicity@googlemail.com






Date issued: 27/10/2009

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