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MERC Middle East drivers back WRC bid by Jordan

2005 Jordan International Rally
FIA Middle East Rally Championship, round 5 of 9

For immediate release
Monday, May 2nd, 2005

MIDDLE EAST RALLY DRIVERS BACK JORDAN'S
AMBITIOUS BID FOR WRC STATUS

Bahraini officials support rally plans by Hashemite Kingdom;
Qatar's Al-Attiyah and UAE's Al-Qassimi in full support of WRC plans;
Live internet tracking and results planned for this week's Jordan Rally

AMMAN (Jordan): Motor sport officials from several key Middle East countries have pledged their backing and support for the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan's ambitious bid to host a future round of the FIA World Rally Championship. This year's event is being observed by senior FIA officials for possible inclusion in the series and kicks off with a ceremonial start in Amman from 16.00 hrs on Thursday, May 5th.

Speaking at a road show press conference in Amman during a whistle-stop tour to promote the Bahrain International Circuit at Sakhir, Circuit Manager Martin Whitaker - himself a former employee of the FIA, Britain's MSA and Ford in the FIA World Rally Championship - said that everyone involved with Formula One and motorsport in Bahrain was delighted that Jordan had taken a step forward to host a round of the WRC.

~This is a positive step for the whole Middle East region,~ said Whitaker. ~Jordan is following in the footsteps of Qatar and Bahrain by planning to host a round of a prestigious FIA Championship. The Bahrain Grand Prix has been a great success for the Kingdom of Bahrain and netted around $110 million revenue for the island in the first 12 months since the inaugural race. Qatar has followed suit with the success of the new Losail circuit and a round of both the Moto GP and World Super Bike Championships and we wish Jordan all the best with its plans for WRC.~

Speaking at a recent press conference in Doha, Nasser Khalifa Al-Attiyah, the President of the Qatar Motor and Motorcycle Federation, passed on his warm wishes to all at the Royal Automobile Club of Jordan and pledged his full support to their WRC effort. ~Everyone would like to see a round of the WRC in the Middle East and we at the Qatar Federation pass on all our best wishes to Jordan as it runs a candidate event for the first time.~

The defending FIA Middle East Rally Champion Sheikh Khalid Al-Qassimi currently lies second overall in the FIA Middle East rally series and is the UAE's most active rally driver on the world stage at the present time. ~I have been fortunate enough to take part in some WRC rallies in the last 12 months and feel sure that Jordan could run a WRC rally to the highest standards,~ said the Power Horse-backed driver. ~They have the stages, the ability and the infrastructure to make the event work and I wish them all the best.~

~Jordan is a long, difficult rally and could quite easily become a round of the WRC,~ said Qatar's Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah, the current leader of the regional series and the winner of the championship in 2003. ~We always look forward to coming here to compete and I am sure that the drivers I compete against in rounds of the PWRC would find the special stages in Jordan a real challenge.~

In a bid to raise the profile of this weekend's Jordan International Rally, officials at the Royal Automobile Club of Jordan have introduced a revolutionary live tracking system and results update for internet users. Individuals logging on to www.jordan-motorsport.com will be able to view the progress of competitors through the special stages via a new positioning system and track teams' progress with results updating in real time.

After the ceremonial start in Abdoun on Thursday evening, there will be 19 special stages over two days in the Jordanian desert south of Amman and in the Dead Sea and Mount Nebo regions. The event will reach a climax in Hussein Gardens in Amman on Saturday, May 7th.

The Jordan Rally has also received a boost with support from the Ministry of Housing and Public Works, Greater Amman Municipality, Higher Council for Youth, Royal Jordanian and Jordan Tourism Board, Power Horse (Official Energy Drink), Chery International (Official Car), Marriott (Official Hotel) and Fast Link (Official Network Provider).

Ends

Neil Perkins, 2005 Jordan International Rally Press Officer, NDP Publicity Services, Mobile + 962 (0) 79 5701982, E-mail: NDPPublicity@compuserve.com, www.ndp-publicity.com (press releases) or
Atala Abousaleh, Arabic Press Officer, Mobile + 962 (0) 79 5701734, E-mail: wisam_mm@emirates.net.ae

For more information, contact Jordan Motorsport on +962 6 5850626

www.jordan-motorsport.com



Date issued: 02/05/2005

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