Amjad Farrah creates history by winning Jordan Rally

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

For immediate release
Saturday, May 22nd, 2004


Oman's Al-Wahaibi loses win on final spectator stage; UAE's Sheikh Khalid claims championship lead;
Disappointment for Jordan's Abu Samra; Cypriot Andreas Tsouloftas up to second in MERC

AMMAN (Jordan): Amjad Farrah became the first Jordanian driver in history to win the Jordan International Rally, when he inherited the win on the final Marlboro spectator stage in dramatic circumstances on Saturday evening in Amman.

He and co-driver Khaled Zakaria - who won the event in 2001 with Mohammed Ben Sulayem - had trailed Oman's Hamad Al-Wahaibi and his Ulster co-driver Allan Harryman by 7m 20s going into the final televised special at Marj Al Hammam. But Al-Wahaibi's Mitsubishi dramatically spluttered to a halt on one of the final corners of the stage with a blown engine and the Omani could only watch in agony as Farrah coasted through to take a last-gasp win.

The Omani had been in a class of his own once Qatari rival Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah retired on the fourth stage following a high-speed landing in a ditch, which wrecked the underside of his Subaru's engine. ~It was a case of driving fast, but safely today,~ said Al-Wahaibi before his worst nightmare unfolded and the engine cruelly expired.

~This is a fantastic result for me and for Khaled,~ said a triumphant Amjad. ~It was a long, hard rally, but we were patient and then this happened on the final stage. It is unbelievable. I really feel for Hamad. The points have lifted me to fourth in the championship and taken Khaled to second place in the co-drivers' section. If I hadn't lost those points in Bahrain I would have been leading the Middle East Championship!~

Cypriot Andreas Tsouloftas - fresh from 11th position on the WRC round in Cyprus last week - stayed in contention for the Middle East title with second overall in his Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution 7. He also moved ahead of Al-Attiyah in the points' standings.

The UAE's Sheikh Khalid Al-Qassimi and co-driver Michael Orr, from Northern Ireland, finished third at the wheel of the Power Horse World Rally Team Subaru Impreza WRX STi, despite clouting a large rock on the 10th stage near Mount Nebo. The result moved Khalid ahead of Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah in the championship standings and the Power Horse driver will now take a four-point lead to the all-tarmac fifth round of the series in Lebanon in July.

~We hit a rock on the first stage of the day, damaged a wheel strut and got a flat tyre,~ said Al-Qassimi. ~It was difficult to get to the service. I am just glad that we made it and were able to finish the rally in a good points-scoring position. Now we have a three-point lead in the championship and it's all to play for.~

Jordan's Bashar Bustami came out of retirement to take fourth position with last year's British championship-winning co-driver Steve Lancaster. Saudi Arabia's Issa El-Dossari moved into fifth in the championship with fellow Saudi Ahmed Al-Sabban and Bahrain's Hassan Al-Sadadi collected his first point of the season after Al-Wahaibi's demise.

Jordan's Marouf Abu Samra had held a solid second until the road section after the Dead Sea special stage, when he was sidelined with a broken differential. Fellow Jordanian Faris Bustami began the day in eighth, only for his Mitsubishi's fuel pump to fail in the Turki stage.

Dubai's Sheikh Suhail Bin Khalifa Al-Maktoum retired with broken engine mountings on Friday. Lebanese veteran Michel Saleh was the first notable retirement after suffering terminal gearbox maladies and turbo problems put paid to Jordanian Ahmad Al-Daoud's first event of the season.

Britain's David Scialom was excluded before the restart on day two for carrying out illegal servicing on his Mitsubishi. Qatar's Abdulaziz Al-Kuwari suffered terminal gearbox problems in the 14th stage and lost his place inside the top 10.

Further down the field Cypriot Nearchos Nearchou moved into a joint lead in the 1600 championship by winning the category in his Proton Wira. Kuwaiti arch rival Meshal Al-Nejadi retired his Citroen Saxo with mechanical problems on the first day.

Final positions after 20 special stages (top 10 only - unofficial at 17.50 hrs)
1. Amjad Farrah (HKJ)/Khaled Zakaria (HKJ) Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution 7 3h 16m 57.4s
2. Andreas Tsouloftas (CY)/Costas Laos (CY) Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution 7 3h 20m 15.1s
3. Sheikh Khalid Al-Qassimi (UAE)/Michael Orr (GB) Subaru Impreza WRX STi 3h 23m 21.0s
4. Bashar Bustami (HKJ)/Steve Lancaster (GB) Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution 7 3h 24m 35.0s
5. Issa Al-Dossari (KSA)/Ramzi Mansour (HKJ) Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution 6 3h 31m23.3s
6. Abdullah Al-Kuwari (QA)/Adel Hussein (QA) Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution 6 3h 35m 14.8s
7. Ahmed Al-Sabban (KSA)/Killian Duffy (IRL) Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution 7 3h 35m 24.3s
8. Hassan Al-Sadadi (BAH)/Hamoud Al-Jabri (OM) Subaru Impreza WRX 3h 36m 23.3s
9. Bashar Abouqoura (SYR)/Omar Alathim (SYR) Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution 6 3h 59m 40.1s
10. Abdullah Tamjeed (UAE)/Yazan Rijleh (SYR) Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution 8 4h 10m 19.2s
42 starters, 18 finishers.

2004 FIA Middle East Rally Championship:
Positions after round 4 of 8 (Drivers):
1. Khalid Al-Qassimi (UAE) - Subaru* 24 pts
2. Andreas Tsouloftas (CY) 21 pts
3. Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah (QA) - Subaru* 20 pts
4. Amjad Farrah (HKJ) 18 pts
5. Ahmed Al-Sabban (KSA) 12 pts
5. Issa Al-Dossari (KSA) 12 pts
8. Michel Saleh (RL) 8 pts
9. Abdulaziz Al-Kuwari (QA) 6 pts
9. Suhail Khalifa (UAE) 6 pts
11. Bashar Bustami (HKJ) 5 pts
11. Abdullah Al-Kuwari (QA) 5 pts
13. Abdullah Al-Qassimi (UAE) 4 pts
13. Ebrahim Busmait (BAH) 4 pts
15. Amir Arnaout (SYR) 3 pts
16. David Scialom (GB) 2 pts
16. Hamed Al-Sowaidi (QA) 2 pts
18. Khalifa Haifaa (SYR) 1pt
18. Toufic Mitri (UAE) 1 pt
18. Meshal Al-Nejadi (KWT) 1 pt
18. Hassan Al-Sadadi (BAH) 1 pt
(* Mitsubishi unless stated)

Positions after round 4 of 8 (Co-Drivers):
1.Michael Orr (GB) 24 pts
2. Khaled Zakaria (HKJ) 18 pts
3. Steve Lancaster (GB) 17 pts
4. Killian Duffy (IRL) 12 pts
4. Ramzi Mansour (HKJ) 12 pts
6. Chris Patterson (GB) 10 pts
8. Savvas Laos (CY) 8 pts
8. Ziad Chehab (RL) 8 pts
8. Costas Laos (CY) 8 pts
10. Nasser Al-Kuwari (QA) 6 pts
10. Wael Marjan (UAE) 6 pts
12. Andreas Achilleos (CY) 5 pts
13. Gaby Khoury (UAE) 4 pts
13. Nadem Mohammed (BAH) 4 pts
15. Yousef Al-Asmar (HKJ) 3 pts
15. Adel Hussain (QA) 3 pts
17. Kevin Clark (GB) 2 pts
17. Michael Morrissey (QA) 2 pts
19. Jafar Al-Souhail (UAE) 1 pt
19. Burhan Abu Khoura (HKJ) 1 pt
19. George Aletraris (OM) 1 pt
19. Hamoud Al-Jabry (OM) 1 pt

1600 (2WD)
1. Meshal Al-Nejadi (KWT) - CitroŽn 20 pts
1. Nearchos Nearchou (CY) - Proton 20 pts
3. Essam Al-Nejadi (KWT) - Proton 8 pts
4. Abir Batikhi (HKJ) - Opel 8 pts
5. Luay Abu-Kaff (HKJ) - Peugeot 6 pts


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.ndp-publicity.com (press releases), www.racj.com

Date issued: 22/05/2004

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