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MERC Al-Attiyah cruises into comfortable lead after day one of Jordan Rally

JORDAN RALLY
2022 FIA Middle East Rally Championship, round 4

For immediate release
Friday, May 20th, 2022

QATAR’S AL-ATTIYAH CRUISES INTO COMFORTABLE LEAD AFTER FIRST DAY OF JORDAN RALLY

DEAD SEA (JORDAN): Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah and Mathieu Baumel won each of the six gravel stages during the first leg of the 2022 Jordan Rally and held a lead of 6min 12.1sec at the end of the day.

Driving an Autotek Volkswagen Polo GTi, the Qatari was never troubled as he closes in on an 18th FIA Middle East Rally Championship title.

At the end of the leg, he said: “We controlled the race from the beginning. We know the stages very well and the performance was good. Jordan Rally is never easy. I tried to beat my times from last year and I did. I am happy. If you go more easy, you start to make mistakes. I had a good speed and a good rhythm.”

Alex Feghali managed to get the better of defending champion Meshari Al-Thefiri in the battle for honours in the MERC2 category. The Lebanese was third quickest on five specials and second on one with co-driver Joseph Matar and had edged into a showroom category lead of 59.4 seconds by the end of the day.

“It was good,” said Feghali. “I started the stages pretty fast and the pace was quick. We just kept the pace. We will go flat out in places we can go and will try and take the podium.”

Behind third-placed Al-Thefiri and his Qatari co-driver Nasser Al-Kuwari, the talented young Jordanian Shaker Jwihan was flying the flag proudly for the Hashemite Kingdom before retiring after an accident in the Jordan River stage.

Al-Thefiri said: “We had an electric issue in the second stage and this made us slow down. Alex had a big gap on the first loop and he was comfortable. Let’s see, we fix the car now and we see on Saturday. I have nothing to lose and I will push, push.”

Abdullah Al-Rawahi pursued Al-Attiyah from the start and the young Omani set the second fastest time on four of the stages with Jordanian navigator Ata Al-Hmoud before retiring from second overall on the re-run of the Jordan River special after an accident.

The carnage that ensued on the second loop meant that Khaled Juma and Tareq Al-Taher climbed to fourth place and third in MERC2 in their Mitsubishi. Hamada Odeh and Mohammed Al-Thefiri rounded off the top six, with MERC2 title rivals Ihab A-Shorafa and Issa Abu Jamous in an unofficial seventh and eighth overall.


Local driver Asef Aref failed to start the fourth stage in his Renault Clio RS entered in the MERC3 category for two-wheel drive vehicles.

Delays on stage three proved expensive for Qatar’s Nasser Khalifa Al-Atya and his Italian co-driver Giovanni Bernacchini. The former MERC runner-up slipped to 12th in the rankings in his Ford Fiesta R5, but the heat had taken its toll as well and he didn’t start the second loop of stages after suffering fatigue in the energy-sapping temperatures.

Friday - as it happened

Al-Attiyah hit the front through the opening Yakrut test and edged into a 9.9-second advantage over Al-Rawahi, with Feghali pipping Al-Thefiri for third and the early bragging rights in MERC2. Yousef Al-Dhafeeri was the only driver to lose considerable time; the Kuwaiti dropping over five minutes to his showroom category rivals.

The giant Jordan River stage of 40.79km was next on the agenda and surviving without technical issues was the goal for the majority of competitors. Al-Attiyah increased his lead over Al-Rawahi to 28 seconds with a time of 28min 29.4sec. Feghali extended his advantage over Al-Thefiri to 29.3 seconds in MERC2 and the impressive Shaker Jwihan moved into fifth overall.

Al-Attiyah safely completed the first loop with the fastest time through the Baptism Site special and headed back to service with a lead of 43.8 seconds over Al-Rawahi. Feghali increased his MERC2 lead to 48.3 seconds over Al-Thefiri. Al-Atya dropped six minutes in the special and slipped back to 1th overall, while Salamah Al-Ghammaz crashed out of the national event during the first loop and Bader Al-Fayez didn’t start SS3.

Al-Attiyah shaved 3.6 seconds off his first pass through Yakrut and increased his overall advantage to 53.4 seconds heading to the second run through the Jordan River special. He sliced 17 seconds off his morning’s run and headed to the Baptism Site with a commanding advantage of 5min 36.3sec over Feghali after Al-Rawahi hit trouble.

The stage also accounted for Shaker Jwihan and the Mitsubishi driver lost his place in the top five. Shadi Shaban also failed to set a time for the final stage after stopping at the scene of Jwihan’s accident. He did, however, complete stage six and his time for the day may well be decided by the event stewards.

Saturday

The first of two passes through the Bahath stage (12.69km) gets the action underway on Saturday morning. Competitors then tackle an 11.08km stage at Suwayma and the 17.00km of Ma’in 1, before returning to the service park before midday.

The three specials will then be repeated in the afternoon, while the podium finish is scheduled for 16.30hrs adjacent to the Dead Sea.

Support for this year’s event comes from Zain Jordan, Mountain Dew, the Guarantee Travel Group, Hala and Bliss FM.

2022 Jordan Rally – positions after SS6 (unofficial @ 16.40hrs):
1. Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah (QAT)/Mathieu Baumel (AND) Volkswagen Polo GTI 1hr 21min 13.0sec
2. Alex Feghali (LEB)/Joseph Matar (LEB) Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX 1hr 27min 25.1sec
3. Meshari Al-Thefiri (KWT)/Nasser Al-Kuwari (QAT) Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X 1hr 28min 24.5sec
4. Khalid Juma (JOR)/Tareq Al-Taher (JOR) Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X 1hr 34min 21.2sec
5. Hamada Odeh (PSE)/Yazan Juma (JOR) Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X 1hr 36min 13.7sec
6. Mohammed Al-Thefiri (KWT)/Suleiman Al-Helal (KWT) Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X` 1hr 40min 25.0sec
7. Ihab Al-Shorafa (JOR)/Yousef Juma (JOR) Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX 1hr 42min 06.0sec
8. Issa Abu Jamous (JOR)/Emad Juma (JOR) Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX 1hr 42min 16.2sec
9. Yousef Al-Dhafeeri (KWT)/Abdulrahman Shekakwe (JOR) Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X 2hr 23min 42.0sec
TBA. Shadi Shaban (JOR)/Samer Issa (JOR) Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX AWAITED

2022 Jordan National Rally – positions after SS6:
1. Khalid Juma (JOR)/Tareq Al-Taher (JOR) Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X 1hr 34min 21.2sec
2. Hamad Odeh (PSE)/Yazan Juma (JOR) Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X 1hr 36min 13.7sec
3. Sami Fleifel (JOR)/Ahmad Al-Khatib (JOR) Mitsubishi Lancer Evo V 1hr 39min 45.3sec
4. Yousef Al-Asmar (JOR)/Nabeel Kayyal (JOR) Subaru Impreza 1hr 40min 16.4sec
5. Ihab Al-Shorafa (JOR)/Yousef Juma (JOR) Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX 1hr 42min 06.0sec
6. Issa Abu Jamous (JOR)/Emad Juma (JOR) Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX 1hr 42min 16.2sec

Ends

For further information: Jordan Rally Media Service, E-mail: info@dmediajo.com.

www.jordanrally.com

Facebook Group - Jordan Motorsport (الأردنية لرياضة السيارات)

Twitter: @motorsportjo

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Date issued: 20/05/2022

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