WRC Jari-Matti Latvala leads in Jordan Rally after day one

JORDAN RALLY, April 1st-3rd, 2010


2010 FIA World Rally Championship, round 3

2010 FIA Middle East Rally Championship, round 3

For immediate release
Thursday, April 1st, 2010




·         Ogier takes second place; Loeb holds third overall

·         Portugal’s Sousa takes day one S2000 lead; Al-Attiyah crashes

·         Flodin, Semerad and Araújo neck-and-neck in PWRC


DEAD SEA (Jordan): Finland’s Jari-Matti Latvala and Miikka Anttila held a 30.2-second outright lead for the BP Ford Abu Dhabi World Rally Team after seven slippery and demanding special stages of the Jordan Rally on Thursday.


Loose stones and surface gravel played havoc with traction and grip on the deceptive, winding trails through the Dead Sea area of the Hashemite Kingdom. A handful of seconds separated the leading group throughout the day and it was predictable that team tactics came into play at the end of the leg to ensure senior team drivers had favourable starting positions for Saturday’s perilous special stages.


The BP Ford Abu Dhabi and Citroën Total World Rally Teams were closely matched after the French team’s dominant display in Mexico last month, but team tactics were inevitable nonetheless. Frenchman Sébastien Ogier measured his pace to perfection and reached the overnight halt in second position.


Defending World Champion Sébastien Loeb had been the first driver on the road this morning and held third at the end of a difficult day. “I tried to push on the last stage to get some time back, but I was relying on what the others did to determine my starting position for Friday,” said the Frenchman. Norwegian Petter Solberg and Finland’s Mikko Hirvonen completed the top five.


Poland’s Michal Kosciuszko led the FIA Super 2000 World Rally Championship in his Ford Fiesta S2000 until the final stage, when his demise promoted Bernardo Sousa’s Ford Fiesta S2000 into the surprise category lead. Sweden’s Patrik Flodin was the early pace setter in the FIA Production World Rally Championship (PWRC) after a terrific fight with Martin Semerad and defending champion Armindo Araújo.


Day One


Teams headed straight into the Rumman forest stage after the colourful start at the Roman city of Jerash, where several drivers were invited to attend a chariot race and watch gladiators re-enact scenes from a bygone age in the presence of HRH Prince Feisal Al-Hussein, chairman of Jordan Motorsport.


Hirvonen lost 10 seconds with a half-spin and a stalled engine through the opening stage. Loeb was running first on the road and complained about the lack of grip as Latvala and Petter Solberg set the early pace, with Sordo and Ogier breathing down their necks over the slippery and stony surface.


Latvala was quickest through Wadi Shueib as well and edged into a 4.3s lead over the Norwegian. Loeb and Hirvonen were split by a tenth of a second, but 10 seconds of road penalties for late stage arrival were handed to both Latvala and Solberg in Mahes, where Sordo set the fastest time and moved into the outright lead by just 0.8s.


Petter Solberg was fastest through Mount Nebo, but Latvala returned to service at the Dead Sea with a 0.4s overall advantage over Sordo. Petter Solberg was just 1.1s behind in third.


Time penalties for the late stage arrival were sensibly scrapped at the Dead Sea race control and Latvala duly went on to finish the fifth stage over five seconds in front of Hirvonen. The Finn’s lead over Solberg grew to 7.4s and 9.1s over Sordo. Ogier, Loeb and Hirvonen completed the top six heading back to Mahes.


Solberg set the quickest time in stage six and reduced Latvala’s lead to 5.8s, but service park talk was all about team tactics and the possibility of crews slowing through the seventh stage to improve their day two starting position. Sordo, Ogier and Loeb filled third, fourth and fifth places en route to Mount Nebo.


All eyes were on the stage split times and Latvala was left to open the road on Friday. The Finn set the second fastest time to take a half-minute lead into day two. Ogier held second and Loeb was third.


Sweden’s Per-Gunnar Andersson was the early class act in the SWRC category. He was 4.2s quicker than Al-Attiyah in Rumman forest and maintained the lead through SS2, but he crashed near the start of the third stage, reportedly damaged a suspension top mounting and handed the lead to Al-Attiyah.


The Qatari maintained a three-second lead over Kosciuszko through Mount Nebo where Finland’s Janne Tuohino left the road, but Al-Attiyah rolled out on the fifth stage and Kosciuszko inherited a comfortable lead from Sousa. But the Czech was also sidelined near the finish and Sousa was an unlikely category leader at the end of day one.


Flodin made a flying start in the PWRC section. The Swede beat Araújo by 1.7s in SS1 and even pipped former F1 supremo Kimi Räikkönen. Martin Semerad moved to within 1.5s on the Swede after Wadi Shueib, but Araújo slipped into the lead with the fastest time in Mahes. Just 2.7s separated the top three heading to Mount Nebo and Flodin regained the lead before the return to service.


He maintained his advantage in SS5 and finished the day with a nine-second advantage once the Portuguese slowed tactically over the final kilometres.


Tomorrow (Friday), teams will tackle just six special stages and a total of 138.28 competitive kilometres, but two of those runs are through the punishing 41.45km Jordan River stage.


The stage is one of the most difficult in the WRC calendar. It will form the 10th special of the rally from 10.19hrs and will round off the day’s action at 14.28hrs after teams have also tackled the Suwayma and Kafrain specials on two occasions.


Positions after SS7 – end of day one:

1. Jari-Matti Latvala (FIN)/Miikka Anttila (FIN) Ford Focus RS WRC 09                                    1h 11m 31.5s

2. Sébastien Ogier (F)/Julien Ingrassia (F) Citroën C4 WRC                                                1h 12m 01.7s

3. Sébastien Loeb (F)/Daniel Elena (F) Citroën C4 WRC                                                1h 12m 03.3s

4. Petter Solberg (N)/Phil Mills (GB) Citroën C4 WRC                                                            1h 12m 04.0s

5. Mikko Hirvonen (FIN)/Jarmo Lehtinen (FIN) Ford Focus RS WRC 09                                    1h 12m 13.7s

6. Dani Sordo (E)/Marc Marti (E) Citroën C4 WRC                                                    1h 12m 16.9s

7. Henning Solberg (N)/Ilka Minor (A) Ford Focus RS WRC 08                                             1h 12m 52.4s

8. Matthew Wilson (GB)/Scott Martin (GB) Ford Focus RS WRC 08                                    1h 13m 32.6s

9. Federico Villagra (RA)/Jorge Perez Companc (RA) Ford Focus RS WRC 08                  1h 14m 19.7s

10. Kimi Räikkönen (FIN)/Kaj Lindström (FIN) Citroën C4 WRC                                                1h 15m 22.0s



For further media information:
2010 Jordan Rally Press Office, Main Media Centre, King Hussein Ben Talal Convention Centre, Dead Sea, Jordan, Mobile: + 962 79 6548882 or Mobile: + 962 79 5640597, E-mail:
media@jordanrally.com or ndppublicity@googlemail.com







Date issued: 01/04/2010

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