MERC Jordanian drivers among top class field for Jordan Rally
2009 Jordan Rally
FIA Middle East Rally Championship, round 6 of 7
For immediate release
Wednesday, October 28th, 2009
JORDANIAN DRIVERS AMONG TOP
CLASS FIELD FOR 2009 JORDAN RALLY
· Farrah, Bustami, Tantash and Hijazi head Jordanian contingent
· Drivers from Saudi Arabia, UAE, Qatar, England and Egypt boost entry
· Jordan Rally starts from Abdoun Circle from 3pm on Thursday afternoon
DEAD SEA (Jordan): The Jordan Rally gets underway in the Abdoun Circle district of Amman from 3pm on Thursday afternoon and could well decide the outcome of the 2009 FIA Middle East Rally Championship.
The region’s top drivers will join Jordan’s finest to tackle 18 gravel special stages in the Dead Sea area, which will play host to the FIA World Rally Championship for the second time in April 2010.
Several of the front-runners attended a pre-event press conference at the Jordan Valley Marriott Spa and Resort on Wednesday afternoon after completing two days of detailed reconnaissance of the route arranged by Jordan Motorsport, under the supervision of new clerk of the course Khaled Zakaria and his deputies, Fred Gallagher and Mazen Dajani.
Amjad Farrah is the only Jordanian driver ever to win a round of the regional series – he won his home event in dramatic circumstances in 2004 with none other than Khalid Zakaria as co-driver – but this season has been a disappointing one for local drivers. No Jordanian has scored a Drivers’ Championship point and Farrah will be hoping to set the record straight when the 154th event in the history of the regional series finishes at the Dead Sea on Saturday afternoon.
Farrah teams up with former driver Nancy Al-Majali and heads the local contingent from a seventh-seeding position. Faris Bustami missed several rounds of the championship this season, but the multiple national champion and co-driver Zeid Abu Zeid will be hoping for good fortune in their Mitsubishi Lancer. Bustami has a good record on his home event and would dearly love to reach the podium.
Mazan Tantash has recruited the services of Spanish co-driver Carlos del Barrio for his challenge in a third Jordanian Mitsubishi Lancer. Barrio is a former member of the Citroën World Rally Team and co-drove for the likes of Jesus Puras and Dani Sordo at the start of his rallying career. The 41-year-old then teamed up with Xavier Pons in the Kronos Citroën team and went on to co-drive for Dani Sola. His most notable WRC results were fourth overall with Pons in the 2004 Catalunya Rally and similar finishes with Pons in Turkey, Australia and New Zealand two years later.
Other local entrants include Abir Al-Batikhi in her Subaru Impreza WRX, Faris Hijazi and Ahmad Mihyar, but Ammar Hijazi is a non-starter off the original entry list.
While Qatar’s Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah and Misfer Al-Marri will embark upon a fascinating showdown with Saudi Arabia’s Yazeed Al-Rajhi for overall championship points at the front of the field, Lebanon’s Nick Georgiou – who holds equal fourth in the points’ standings – will be ensuring that he keeps his car in one piece in advance of the crucial finale to the Pirelli Star Driver competition in Dubai next month.
Lebanese drivers have a strong presence on the entry list, with Roger Feghali – the fourth most successful driver in the history of the regional series with seven wins – lining up at number six in his Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution IX. Each of his MERC wins have come on the Rally of Lebanon, but Feghali pushed Al-Attiyah for long periods in Cyprus recently and has led events in Dubai and Jordan in the past.
The third Lebanese entrant is veteran Michel Saleh and co-driver Ahmed Ghaziri. Saleh was the winner of the first two, non-championship Jordan rallies in 1981 and 1982 and has tackled more rounds of the regional series than any other driver. He has lost none of his enthusiasm for the sport over a 28-year timeframe and will be pushing hard for the top five from the start.
Sheikh Abdullah Al-Qassimi took his sole MERC win in the UAE International Rally and is seeded at four with British co-driver Steve Lancaster. The Emirati is a multiple regional Group N champion and one of two representatives from the UAE, which will host the final round of the series in December. Rashid Al-Ketbi has the turn of speed to spring a surprise and he and co-driver Khalid Al-Kendi complete the UAE line-up in a new Subaru.
David Scialom represents the United Kingdom in his Subaru Impreza, Saudi Arabia’s Ahmed Al-Sabban wheels out his Toyota S2000 and Qatar’s entry is boosted by the presence of Khalid Al-Suwaidi. There is also an Egyptian entry for Hassan Ali Abdel Baset at the wheel of a Mitsubishi Evolution VIII.
The official opening ceremony gets underway at 3pm on Thursday afternoon, and Jordanian singing sensation Omar Abdallat is set to perform at 4pm. The first cars cross the ceremonial start ramp from 5pm at the Abdoun Circle in Amman.
1. Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah (QA)/Giovanni Bernacchini (I) Subaru Impreza N15
2. Misfer Al-Marri (QA)/Chris Patterson (GB) Subaru Impreza N14
3. Nick Georgiou (RL)/Joseph Matar (RL) Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution IX
4. Sheikh Abdullah Al-Qassimi (UAE)/Steve Lancaster (GB) Subaru Impreza N14
5. Yazeed Al-Rajhi (KSA)/Matthieu Baumel (F) Peugeot S 2000
6. Roger Feghali (RL)/Nicola Arena (I) Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution IX
7. Amjad Farrah (HKJ)/Nancy Al-Majali (HKJ) Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution IX
8. Michel Saleh (RL)/Ahmad Ghaziri (RL) Subaru Impreza N 14
9. Khalid Al-Suwaidi (QA)/Nick Beech (GB) Subaru Impreza N 14
10. Faris Bustami (HKJ)/Zeid Abu Zeid (HKJ) Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution IX
2009 FIA Middle East Rally Championship - positions after round 5 of 7:
1. Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah (QA) 30 pts
2. Misfer Al-Marri (QA) 29 pts
3. Yazeed Al-Rajhi (KSA) 28 pts
4. Nick Georgiou (RL) 13 pts
4. Mubarak Al-Hajri (QA) 13 pts
6. Khalid Al-Qassimi (UAE) 12 pts, etc
For further media information:
2009 Jordan Rally Media Office, Vartanii 1 Ballroom, Ground Floor, Jordan Valley Marriott Spa and Resort, Dead Sea, Jordan, Mobile: + 962 79 612 5831, E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com