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Jordan organisers hopeful of bumper entry

2004 Jordan International Rally
FIA Middle East Rally Championship, round 4 of 8

For immediate release
Tuesday, April 20th, 2004

JORDAN ORGANISERS HOPEFUL OF BUMPER ENTRY

Amman-based event looking for welcome region's top drivers

AMMAN (Jordan): The Royal Automobile Club of Jordan is hoping that this year's Marlboro-supported Jordan International Rally, the fourth round of the 2004 FIA Middle East Rally Championship, will attract its strongest ever entry. But that will depend to an extent on the outcome of this weekend's Oman International Rally.

The Muscat-based Oman event has made a return to the series for the first time since 1998 and 35 of the region's top drivers have entered. Jordanian rally organisers are hopeful of receiving many of these competitors in Amman in mid-May, but that may well depend upon any damage caused to their cars over the sinuous Omani special stages in the Hajar mountains.

~I am confident that many of the drivers taking part in Oman this weekend will come to Jordan next month,~ said Rally Manager Ziad Louza. ~But everyone will be trying very hard to take championship points in Oman and accidents and breakages can and do happen.~

One of those drivers keen to return to the Jordan International Rally for the first time since the mid-1990s is Sheikh Suhail Bin Khalifa Al-Maktoum, an original member of Dubai's Victory Rally Team, who makes a sensational return to rallying this weekend in Oman.

Suhail was one of the fastest drivers in the region for several years in a Group A Toyota Celica GT4 and has entered the Oman event in a Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution 6. He is planning to tackle the remaining rounds of the series, including the Jordan Rally.

Suhail and former Victory colleague Khalifa Al-Motaiwi provided the main competition for 14-times regional rally champion Mohammed Ben Sulayem, who won the Jordan Rally on 10 occasions with support from Marlboro. Al-Motaiwi is still competing in the FIA Cross-Country Rallies World Cup and finished second overall in last week's Rally of Tunisia in a BMW X5 Rallye-Raid. He is planning to take part in six long-distance rallies this year, including the UAE Desert Challenge.

Another driver making a dramatic return to the series is Oman's former Group N champion Nizar Al-Shanfari. He, like Britain's David Scialom and Oman's Tony Georgiou, is just one of several names who the Royal Automobile Club of Jordan will be hoping to attract for the Amman-based fourth round of the championship in May.

Cypriot Andreas Tsouloftas finished second overall in the Jordan International Rally last season and lists the event as one of his favourites. He collected eight points in Bahrain last month for finishing runner-up again and is hopeful of closing the gap on his series rivals in Oman and Jordan. Tsouloftas is confident that he will enter the Jordan Rally, although co-driver Andreas Achileos replaces regular partner Savvas Laos in Muscat this weekend.

~I think the stages in Jordan are excellent,~ said Tsouloftas. ~And the new GPS tracking system will ensure that the stages to the south of Amman are tightly controlled. The sections around the Dead Sea and Mount Nebo are my favourites. They are like Cyprus and suit me down to the ground.~

For further information about the 2004 Jordan International Rally and details about entry concessions contact Ziad Louza at the Royal Automobile Club of Jordan (RACJ), Tel: + 9626 5850626, Fax: + 9626 5818131, E-mail: racj@go.com.jo

Ends

For further media information:
Neil Perkins, 2004 Jordan International Rally Press Officer, NDP Publicity Services,
Tel: + (44) 1952 825078, Fax: + (44) 1952 825001, Mobile: + 44 7831 123153
E-mail: NDPPublicity@compuserve.com
www.ndp-publicity.com/press releases

Date issued: 20/04/2004

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