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MERC Top teams and officials arrive in Amman for Jordan Rally

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

For immediate release
Tuesday, May 3rd, 2005

TOP TEAMS AND OFFICIALS ARRIVE IN AMMAN
FOR THIS WEEK'S JORDAN INTERNATIONAL RALLY

Jordan Motorsport officials make final rally preparations;
New WRC-style passive tracking system for recce days;
Star WRC names Richards, Moya, Cadringher and Grist set to visit Jordan

AMMAN (Jordan): International competitors, officials and members of the world's media have been arriving in the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan over the last couple of days, while 38 of the region's leading teams spent Tuesday and Wednesday driving through the desert to check out the 19 timed special stages which constitute this weekend's Jordan International Rally. The event is the fifth round of the 2005 FIA Middle East Rally Championship and starts in Abdoun from 16.00 hrs on Thursday.

The two-day recce will be monitored for the first time by a satellite tracking system. Competitors will need to adhere to a WRC-style 60 km/h speed limit, which will be verified passively by event officials. Teams found exceeding the speed limit will be penalised.

With competition among the leading teams likely to be fierce from the outset, drivers can leave nothing to chance as they pass through the stages several times during the low speed recce with their co-drivers to ensure that their pace notes and detailed route information cover any tricky corners and deceptive holes or wadis in the route. When the special stage action commences on Friday morning, this information is crucial because the terrain takes on a totally new feeling at speeds far in excess of those they were driving at early this week.

~We need to make sure that we take a good look at all the stages in detail,~ says Faris Bustami, one of Jordan's leading drivers and the winner of a recent National Rally in Jordan. ~I will be using a more powerful Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution 8 for the first time here and that means I will place extra significance on the recce. We are given two days to drive all the stages. This is strictly policed and we are only handed the road books the evening before each day to stop people getting an advanced look at the stages. Then it's simply down to your own regime and how you use the time to your advantage.~

~Carrying out a recce is often a long and sometimes tedious part of the job,~ insists Michael Orr, the defending FIA Middle East champion co-driver and last year's PWRC Championship winning co-driver, who sits alongside Sheikh Khalid Al-Qassimi in his Power Horse-backed Subaru Impreza WRX STi. ~Khalid and I will leave nothing to chance. Not being meticulous at this stage can cost you the rally. We know that there are things you can miss on the recce, weather conditions can change, other cars can kick rocks into the track, so it is not foolproof by any means.~

Several local teams arranged their own pre-event press receptions in advance of the official event press conference at the Royal Automobile Club of Jordan (RACJ) at 19.00 hrs on Wednesday evening. The Jordan Ladies Rally Team of Nancy Al-Majali and Nadia Shnoudeh unveiled their new HSBC-supported car and Faris Bustami announced his plans for the weekend.

While teams have been out in the desert special stages, officials at Jordan Motorsport have been busy preparing the rally headquarters and the extensive press centre for the influx of the world's media, VIPs and senior FIA officials. The event is being observed for possible inclusion in the FIA World Rally Championship and its profile has rapidly risen on the world stage, with media representatives from several European countries joining the regional written press and television to cover the two-day event.

WRC events run to certain high-level criteria and Jordan Motorsport officials realise the need for attention to detail this year if the event is to make an impression on visiting FIA representatives from Finland, New Zealand and Germany. Visiting VIPs include David Richards, the director of Prodrive and boss of ISC (the television rights holder for the WRC) and Luis Moya and Nicky Grist, former WRC winning co-drivers with Spain's Carlos Sainz and Scotland's Colin McRae.

Gabriele Cadringher, the President of the FIA Manufacturers' Commission, Mohammed Ben Sulayem, the 14-times FIA Middle East Rally Champion and multiple Jordan Rally winner, have also been invited to witness the competitive action. They will be joined by former co-driver Ronan Morgan and Mark and Paul Stewart, sons of Formula One racing legend Jackie Stewart.

Grist has recently been working as a consultant to Jordan Motorsport, while Richards is a personal friend of HRH Prince Feisal Al Hussein, Chairman of Jordan Motorsport, and was one of the founders of Middle East motorsport back in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Middle East rallying is closely monitored by Richards and he expressed support for a round of the series in the region when Lebanon was a candidate several years ago.

Jordan Motorsport officials are planning several innovations for the ceremonial start, which will get proceedings underway in Abdoun on Thursday evening. The first of 19 special stages will then start on Friday morning before the event reaches a climax in Hussein Gardens in Amman on Saturday, May 7th.

The Jordan Rally is also supported by 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, Tel: + 962 5864763, Mobile + 962 (0) 79 5701982, E-mail: NDPPublicity@compuserve.com and Atala Abousaleh, Arabic Press Officer, Mobile + 962 (0) 79 5701734, E-mail: wisam_mm@emirates.net.ae, Fax: + 962 5864825.

www.ndp-publicity.com (press releases)

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

www.jordan-motorsport.com



Date issued: 03/05/2005

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