MERC Al-Attiyah cruises into Jordan Rally lead after Dead Sea super special stage
2017 FIA Middle East Rally Championship, round 2
For immediate release
Thursday, May 4th, 2017
AL-ATTIYAH CRUISES INTO JORDAN RALLY
LEAD AFTER DEAD SEA SUPER SPECIAL STAGE
· Marouf Abu Samra holds second place; third overall for Khaled Juma
DEAD SEA (JORDAN): Qatar’s Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah and French navigator Matthieu Baumel cruised into a lead of 11.3 seconds at the FIA Jordan Rally after the opening two-kilometre Samarah super special stage on the shores of the Dead Sea on Thursday evening.
The late arrival of his support truck meant that the 10-time winner of the Hashemite Kingdom’s premier motor sporting event had been unable to test his new Ford Fiesta R5 Evo 2 until after scrutineering on Thursday morning. It was, therefore, a cautious Qatari who carded the fastest time of 1min 51.5sec over a stage that was held in near darkness adjacent to the ceremonial start.
“We made a little test today, maybe 35km, with the car on a section of gravel track that was used in the WRC from the old Turki stage and the car felt great,” said Al-Attiyah. “I need to finish this rally. The championship is short and the problems in Qatar mean that maximum points are important here. I have been driving Fords for many years, so I know the cars well. This car has a little more power.”
The best of the rest and the leader in MERC 2 was Jordanian driver Marouf Abu Samra at the wheel of his Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution IX. Khaled Juma finished third, 3.1 seconds behind, and Kuwait’s Meshari Al-Thefiri and Saudi Arabia’s Rakan Al-Rashed rounded off the top five.
Asem Aref was given the honour of running first on the road in his little Renault Clio and he and navigator Musa Djiyerian carded the target time of 3min 05.7sec. Cars were flagged away from the start ramp by H.R.H. Prince Feisal Al-Hussein, chairman of Jordan Motorsport.
“We have looked at the entry and I guess we should be targeting second place and at least a place on the podium,” said Abu Samra. “I intend to be careful, take no risks and make sure that we give ourselves the chance of a good finish. I considered using the Skoda, but it was impossible to get a part I needed to ensure I could use it.”
Abu Samra’s navigator Malek Hariri in a commercial pilot with Royal Jordanian and won the 2014 World Masters Jujitsu Championship in Brazil. He has co-driven for numerous drivers, including Abu Samra, Michel Saleh, Amjad Farrah and Bashar Al-Bustami, and is trying to piece together an exciting deal to tackle the Dakar Rally for the first time in January 2018.
Khaled and Emad Juma are competing in a Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution and younger brother Khaled has replaced Emad in the driving seat. “I started rallying as a driver in the Jordan Rally in 1992 and switched to co-driving in 2002. I can pass on that experience to my younger brother now,” said 50-year-old Imad, who finished second on the opening round of this year’s National series after the duo won the series in 2016.
Emad Juma has competed with a wide range of drivers, including Faris Hijazi, Maen Tantash, Faris Bustami and Yasmin Al-Hilli. His best MERC result as a navigator was a fine second overall with Bustami.
Seven of the nine cars in the FIA event were permitted to start with advisory messages issued by rally officials in connection with the lack of suitable protective roll cage padding, as per 2017 FIA appendix J of the technical regulations. There were three other minor issues (tinted windows, no external trigger and no external circuit breaker) that contravened appendix J, but all nine cars were permitted to start by rally stewards.
Ziad Miqdad dropped down into the National Rally to join Ahmad Shaban, Salamah Al-Gammaz and Nasser Khanfar – all four are driving Mitsubishi Lancers.
The event is running thanks to a huge national effort supported by the Jordanian Government and its security and safety services.
It is also being supported by the private sector with the Hilton Dead Sea Resort & Spa, Dead Sea Touristic & Real Estate Investment (Samarah), Vestel, CCI – Creative Concepts Industries, Radio Hala and Bliss FM all playing a key part.
Tomorrow (Friday), teams will tackle two loops of five stages in the Dead Sea and Jordan Valley areas. Runs through Panorama, Syagha, Rama, Bahath and Suwayma start at 09.09hrs and will be repeated in the afternoon from 13.03hrs after a return to the Dead Sea Service Park at midday.
2017 FIA Jordan Rally – positions after SS1:
1. Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah (QAT)/Matthieu Baumel (FRA) Ford Fiesta R5 Evo2 1min 51.5sec
2. Marouf Abu Samra (JOR)/Malek Hariri (JOR) Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX 2min 02.8sec
3. Khaled Juma (JOR)/Emad Juma (JOR) Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X 2min 05.9sec
4. Meshari Al-Thefiri (KWT)/Nasser Al-Kuwari (QAT) Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X 2min 08.3sec
5. Rakan Al-Rashed (SAU)/Jarkko Kalliolepo (FIN) Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX 2min 14.1sec
6. Salem Al-Thefiri (KWT)/Ahmed Al-Khatib (JOR) Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X 2min 19.8sec
7. Ihab Al-Shorafa (JOR)/Yousef Juma (JOR) Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX 2min 41.6sec
8. Essam Al-Nejadi (KWT)/Anwar Al-Sharrah (KWT) Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX 2min 44.3sec
9. Asem Aref (JOR)/Musa Djiyerian (JOR) Renault Clio 3min 05.7sec
2017 2nd Jordan National Rally – positions after SS1:
1. Salamah Al-Gammaz (JOR)/Feisal Al-Gammaz (JOR) Mitsubishi Lancer Evo V 2min 27.5sec
2. Nasser Khanfar (JOR)/Burhan Abu Gura (JOR) Mitsubishi Lancer Evo VI 2min 30.2sec
3. Ziad Miqdad (JOR)/Hassan Miqdad (JOR) Mitsubishi Lancer Evo VII 2min 38.0sec
Neil Perkins, News and Information Officer, 2017 Jordan Rally, Jordan Rally Media Service, Wadi Rum Hall Media Centre, King Abdullah Bin Talal Convention Centre by Hilton, UK mobile: + 44 7831 123153, E-mail: NDPPublicity@gmail.com and firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @LordPerkins. Facebook Group: MERC
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