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Al Attiyah leads Jordan Rally after opening stage

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

For immediate release
Thursday, May 20th, 2004

QATAR'S AL-ATTIYAH LEADS JORDAN
RALLY AFTER OPENING SPECIAL STAGE

Second overall for Oman's Al-Wahaibi; Third for UAE's Sheikh Khalid; Jordan's Abu Samra fourth

AMMAN (Jordan): Qatar's Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah and Ulster co-driver Chris Patterson set the fastest time through the opening 2.27 kms special stage of the Marlboro-supported Jordan International Rally, which was shown live on Jordan Television and attracted massive crowds to the area of Marj Al-Hammam in Amman on Thursday evening.

At the wheel of an Autotek Subaru Impreza WRX STi, the defending FIA Middle East champion finished the section 2.6 seconds ahead of arch Omani rival Hamed Al-Wahaibi. Al-Wahaibi, in turn, was nearly three seconds clear of the Power Horse World Rally Team Subaru Impreza WRX STi of the UAE's Sheikh Khalid Al-Qassimi and Ulster co-driver Michael Orr. Marouf Abu Samra and Ahmed Al-Daoud led the strong Jordanian challenge in fourth and fifth places.

Qatar's Abdullah Al-Kuwari and Khalifa Saleh Al-Attiyah removed sections of their Mitsubishis' bodywork over a jump in the stage and Bahrain's Hassan Al-Sadadi lost three minutes with mechanical problems and set the slowest overall time, but all the 42 starters completed the special.

~The stages on are very technical in the desert,~ said last year's winner Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah. ~You have to find a pace on Friday which will not break the car. But I will also have to look out for Hamed and Nasser and find out whether they are prepared to take risks. There will be tactics over the first stages. Maybe I will hold back in the first one and then push hard in the long Swaqqa special.~

Tomorrow (Friday) there will be eight timed sections in the deserts to the south of Amman. Runs through a new Lajun stage and a Sultani special are followed by centralised servicing in the Baalbaki Service Park on the Desert Highway. This is followed by the Swaqqa stage and a new test near Qatrana, before the loop of four stages is repeated on Friday afternoon.

Positions after Marlboro Spectator Stage (SS1 top 8 only):
1. Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah (QA)/Chris Patterson (GB) Subaru Impreza WRX STi 1m 58.1s
2. Hamed Al-Wahaibi (OM)/Allan Harryman (GB) Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution 7 2m 00.7s
3. Sheikh Khalid Al-Qassimi (UAE)/Michael Orr (GB) Subaru Impreza WRX STi 2m 03.3s
4. Marouf Abu Samra (HKJ)/Malek Hariri (HKJ) Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution 6 2m 04.7s
5. Ahmed Al-Daoud (HKJ)/Fahd Al-Naber (HKJ) Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution 7 2m 05.9s
6. Michel Saleh (RL)/Ziad Chehab (RL) Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution 7 2m 2m 06.0s
7. Sheikh Suhail Bin Khalifa Al-Maktoum (UAE)/Ahmed Al-Ghaziri (RL) Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution 6 2m 06.1s
8. Khalifa Al-Attiyah (QA)/Yousef Al-Asmar (HKJ) Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution 6 2m 06.8s

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: 20/05/2004

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