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Competitors arrive in Amman for Jordan Rally

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

For immediate release
Monday, May 17th, 2004

INTERNATIONAL COMPETITORS BEGIN RECCE FOR
FOURTH ROUND OF MIDDLE EAST RALLY SERIES IN JORDAN

Leading drivers arrive in Jordan; Amman buzzing with rally and conference fever

AMMAN (Jordan): The Middle East's leading rally drivers began their preparations for the Marlboro-supported Jordan International Rally in Amman on Monday, when they commenced a detailed reconnaissance of the special stages which will constitute this weekend's fourth round of the FIA Middle East Rally Championship.

As top rally drivers from each of the GCC states and from as far afield as Western Europe head into the deserts to the south and west of Amman to ensure that they are fully-prepared for the competitive start in Amman on Thursday evening, the Hashemite Kingdom is also playing host to the World Economic Forum for the second successive year. Rally enthusiasts, team officials and drivers are mixing with senior political figures and members of the world economic community at the event's Marriott Hotel base in Amman.

While leading championship contenders Qatar's Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah and the UAE's Sheikh Khalid Al-Qassimi have had time to prepare for the 20 gravel special stages which lie ahead, Cypriot Andreas Tsouloftas has not been so fortunate.

He arrived in Amman late on Sunday night, directly from Larnaca, after finishing the gruelling Cyprus round of the FIA World Rally Championship in a very commendable 11th position overall at the wheel of a Group A Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution 6.

~Cyprus was a fantastic event for me,~ said Tsouloftas. ~It was a great result, but it was more important for me to get as much stage practice as possible before this weekend. I was second in the Jordan Rally last year and I know that another second position this week would put me in a very strong position in the Middle East Championship.~

There has been extra significance placed on a meticulous recce this year, because Friday's opening leg through the deserts to the south of Amman features two new special stages. The 18.12 Lajun test runs to the west of the Desert Highway and offers a balance of fast, smooth gravel, twisty rough areas and a hilly section. Both the Sultani and Swaqqa stages are known to competitors who have tackled the Jordan Rally in the past, but the 20.74 Qatrana section offers a new eastern route through the mountains near the Desert Highway.

~Recce is crucial,~ admitted Ulster co-driver Chris Patterson, who partners the defending FIA Middle East Champion Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah. ~Sections of track whick may look fairly straightforward in a normal road car or a 4x4 vehicle can become very dangerous at high speeds. You need to ensure that you have the right line and approach to these sections. The person who wins a rally is the one who can combine restraint and discipline with outright speed.~

~It's all systems go at the Royal Automobile Club,~ said Clerk of the Course Ziad Louza. ~Everyone is arriving and for the next three days there are a myriad of things to do, paperwork to finalise and crucial arrangements to be made before the start.~

Competitive action begins on Thursday afternoon (May 20th) at 17.00 hrs with a timed 2.27 kms Marlboro Spectator stage in Amman.

Ends

For further media information:
Neil Perkins or Sharif Baalbaki, 2004 Jordan International Rally Media Centre, RACJ, Ground Floor, Amman, Jordan, Tel: + (962) 6 5828736 or + (962) 6 5827603, Fax: + (962) 6 5825091, Mobile: + (962) 77 633609.
E-mail: NDPPublicity@compuserve.com, www.racj.com

Date issued: 17/05/2004

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