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MERC Qatar's Al-Attiyah leads quality field into Jordan Rally start on Thursday

Jordan Rally
2014 FIA Middle East Rally Championship, round 3

For immediate release
Wednesday, April 30th, 2014

QATAR’S AL-ATTIYAH LEADS QUALITY FIELD
INTO JORDAN RALLY START ON THURSDAY

· Kuwait’s Al-Thafiri and Emirati Al-Mutawee lead Group N and 2WD
· Jordanian husband and wife duo set for rally debut in Mitsubishi

DEAD SEA (Jordan): Defending FIA Middle East rally champion Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah leads a quality 25-car entry into the Jordan Rally, round three of the regional series, which gets underway with a glitzy ceremonial start at Abdali, the new downtown of Amman, from 4pm on Thursday evening.

A winner of 52 regional rallies in his illustrious career, the Qatari and his Italian co-driver Giovanni Bernacchini have won three previous Jordan rallies together and Al-Attiyah will be chasing win number eight in the Hashemite Kingdom when he lines up at the start to prepare for 21 timed special stages, 20 of which will run over demanding gravel terrain through the Jordan Valley and Dead Sea area.

Al-Attiyah has two championship wins to his name this season in Qatar and Kuwait and a 17-point lead over Abu Dhabi Racing’s Sheikh Khalid Al-Qassimi in the title race. Al-Qassimi is seeded at two and heads a six-car team from the UAE that includes five Junior drivers chasing points in both the Junior and 2WD categories at the wheel of Citroën DS3 R3s. Mohamed Al-Mutawee leads both classes after two rounds.

Saudi Arabia’s Yazeed Al-Rajhi has endured mixed results this season and lies third in the title race in his Ford Fiesta RRC and the Riyadh driver needs a podium finish to keep his title hopes alive before heading off to Argentina for next weekend’s WRC round.

Sharjah’s Sheikh Abdullah Al-Qassimi, leading Jordanian driver Marouf Abu Samra and Kuwait’s Salah bin Eidan round off the top six ahead of the opening timed 1.6km super special stage in Abdali from 5.35pm on Thursday evening.

“The gravel stages are very nice and look like they have been graded recently because they are quite slippery in a lot of places and we will need to take care of the loose gravel on the surface,” said Italian co-driver Nicola Arena, who is partnering Qatar’s Abdullah Al-Kuwari in the eighth-seeded QAFAC Rally Team Ford Fiesta R5.

Jordan is well represented on this occasion: supporting Abu Samra are Ala’ Khalifeh and Ala’a Rasheed in a pair of Ford Fiestas and Husam Salem in a Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution VIII entered in the Group N section.

Salem’s main competition comes from the Kuwaiti driver Meshari Al-Thafiri, who arrives in Jordan with a 10-point lead in the Group N Cup. Further entrants in the showroom category include Jordan’s Khaled Juma, Basheer Azar and Salameh Al-Qammaz and Qatar’s Khalifa Al-Attiyah and Nada Zeidan. Lebanese veteran Michel Saleh bolsters the Group N entry in his Subaru Impreza.

The Jordanian husband and wife team of Suhail Al-Jariri and Maysoon Jayousi are taking part in their first event together in a Group N Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution VI. Suhail has co-driven on a national event before, but this is the first rally ever for his co-driving wife. The couple met for the first time at a speed test in Palestine.

Seven of the leading drivers will join a Q&A forum at the podium in Abdali on Thursday evening from 4pm in place of the traditional pre-event press conference. Crews will then cross the start ramp in reverse order before tackling the opening super special in a similar order from 5.35pm.

2014 Jordan Rally - start list (provisional):
1. Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah (QAT)/Giovanni Bernacchini (ITA) Ford Fiesta RRC
2. Khalid Al-Qassimi (ARE)/Chris Patterson (GBR) Citroën DS3 RRC
3. Yazeed Al-Rajhi (SAU)/Michael Orr (GBR) Ford Fiesta RRC
5. Abdullah Al-Qassimi (ARE)/Catherine Derousseaux (FRA) Ford Fiesta RRC
6. Marouf Abu Samra (JOR)/Nicola Fanous (JOR) Skoda Fabia S2000
7. Salah Bin Eidan (KWT)/Alex Gelsomino (USA) Ford Fiesta R5
8. Abdullah Al-Kuwari (QAT)/Nicola Arena (ITA) Ford Fiesta R5
9. Ala’ Khalifeh (JOR)/Ata Al-Hmoud (JOR) Ford Fiesta R5
10. Khalifa Al-Attiyah (QAT)/Adel Hussein (QAT) Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X
11. Ala’a Rasheed (JOR)/Joseph Matar (LEB) Ford Fiesta RRC
12. Michel Saleh (LBN)/Ziad Masannat (JOR) Subaru Impreza
14. Husam Salam (JOR)/Nancy Al-Majali (JOR) Mitsubishi Lancer Evo VIII
15. Meshari Al-Thefiri (KWT)/Emad Juma (JOR) Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X
17. Mohamed Al-Mutawaa (ARE)/Stephen McAuley (GBR) Citroën DS3 R3
19. Mohamed Al-Sahlawi (ARE)/Craig Parry (GBR) Citroën DS3 R3
20. Mohammed Rasheed (JOR)/Ahmad Al-Khatib (JOR) Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX
21. Mansoor Belhelai (ARE)/Khalid Al-Kendi (ARE) Citroën DS3 R3
22. Khaled Juma (JOR)/Ibrahim Qadadeh (JOR) Mitsubishi Lancer Evo VIII
23. Juma Al-Falaisi (ARE)/John Higgins (IRL) Citroën DS3 R3
24. Saeed Bintowq (ARE)/Allan Harryman (GBR) Citroën DS3 R3
25. Nada Zeidan (QAT)/Kamal Khoder (QAT) Subaru Impreza
26. Salameh Al-Qammaz (JOR/Fares Al-Tal (JOR) Mitsubishi Lancer Evo V
27. Basheer Azar (JOR)/Belal Majdalawi (JOR) Subaru Impreza
28. Suhail Al-Jariri (JOR)/Maysoon Jayousi (JOR) Mitsubishi Lancer Evo VI
29. Ahmad Mihyar (JOR)/Ashraf Kalbouneh (JOR) Fiat Stilo

FIA Middle East Rally Championship – positions after round 2:
Drivers

1. Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah (QAT) 50pts
2. Khalid Al-Qassimi (ARE) 33pts
3. Yazeed Al-Rajhi (SAU) 27pts
4. Abdulaziz Al-Kuwari (QAT) 26pts
5. Abdullah Al-Kuwari (QAT) 16pts
6. Abdullah Al-Qassimi (ARE) 12pts
7. Salah bin Eidan (KWT) 10pts
7. Mohamed Al-Mutawaa (ARE) 10pts
9. Mohammed Al-Sahlawi (ARE) 7pts
10. Khalifa Al-Attiyah (QAT) 4pts
10. Ala’a Rasheed (JOR) 4pts
12. Meshari Al-Thafiri (KWT) 2pts
13. Mansoor Bel Helai (ARE) 1pt

Co-drivers
1. Giovanni Bernacchini (ITA) 50pts
2. Chris Patterson(GBR) 33pts
3. Michael Orr (GBR) 27pts
4. Killian Duffy (IRL) 26pts
5. Nicola Arena (ITA) 16pts
6. Catherine Derousseaux (FRA) 12pts
7. Nasser Al-Kuwari (QAT) 10pts
7. Stephen McAuley (GBR) 10pts
9. Craig Parry (GBR) 7pts
10. Joseph Matar (LBN) 4pts
10. Adel Hussein (QAT) 4pts
12. Fahad Al-Mutairi (KWT) 2pts
13. Khalid Al-Kendi (ARE) 1pt

Group N
1. Meshari Al-Thafiri (KUW) 40pts
2. Edith Weiss (GET) 30pts
3. Khalifa Al-Attiyah (QAT) 25pts
4. Nada Zeidan (QAT) 22pts, etc

2WD & Junior
1. Mohamed Al-Mutawee (ARE) 50pts
2. Mohamed Al-Sahlawi (ARE) 36pts
3. Mansoor Bel Helai (ARE) 30pts
4. Juma Al-Falaisi (ARE) 12pts
5. Saeed Bintowq (ARE) 12pts

Ends

Neil Perkins, International Press Officer, 2014 Jordan Rally, Crowne Plaza Jordan Dead Sea Resort and Spa, Media Centre, Tel: + 44 7831 123153, E-mail: NDPPublicity@googlemail.com and media@joc.jo - www.ndp-publicity.com (press releases). Twitter: @LordPerkins

www.jordanrally.com
Facebook Group - Jordan Motorsport (الأردنية لرياضة السيارات)
Twitter: @Jordanmotorspor

Date issued: 30/04/2014

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