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MERC Nasser Saleh Al Attiyah leads bumper entry into two days of Jordan Rally action

Jordan Rally 2007
FIA Middle East Rally Championship, round 4 of 8
FIA World Rally Championship, official round in 2008

For immediate release
Thursday, May 10th, 2007

QATAR’S NASSER AL-ATTIYAH LEADS BUMPER
ENTRY INTO TWO DAYS OF JORDAN RALLY ACTION

• Championship leader Khalid Al-Qassimi under pressure to score points
• Main Jordanian hopes rest with 2004 rally winner Amjad Farrah
• Saudi, Kuwaiti, Qatari and Lebanese rally drivers set for Dead Sea battle

DEAD SEA (Jordan): Defending FIA Middle East rally champions, Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah and Chris Patterson, will lead 38 starters into the first of 18 timed gravel special stages in the Dead Sea area of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan on Friday morning. The two-day event is the fourth round of the regional rally series and finishes adjacent to the King Hussein Ben Talal Convention Centre on Saturday evening.

Qatar’s Al-Attiyah and Ulsterman Patterson will cross the ceremonial start podium at the King Hussein Ben Talal Mosque in Amman on Thursday evening, three points behind their arch UAE rival Sheikh Khalid Al-Qassimi and his British co-driver Nicky Beech. Al-Qassimi won the recent Oman Rally and arrives in Jordan with a slender three-point lead in the championship, although Al-Attiyah has taken a pair of outright victories in Qatar and Cyprus so far this year.

“It is important for me to take as many points as possible,” said last year’s winner Al-Attiyah. “But it would also be nice to win the event outright, especially with such large media attention and interest in the event before it joins the WRC next year.”

Jordan’s Amjad Farrah became the first Jordanian winner of his home event in 2004, but Farrah and his Italian co-driver Nicola Arena will also be mindful of the need to collect valuable championship points in the baking heat of a May weekend at the lowest place on earth. Farrah is currently third in the championship, a mere one point behind Al-Attiyah and is well-placed to become the first Jordanian ever to lead the FIA Middle East Drivers’ Championship.

Sheikh Abdullah Al-Qassimi’s preparations for the event suffered a slight set-back with the late return of his British co-driver Steve Lancaster from a WRC event in Argentina. But the UAE driver will be hoping to build upon the 14 points and fourth place he has so far achieved in the series. Lebanese veteran Michel Saleh is also in contention for top honours and has so far amassed 11 points this season.

Farrah heads a 12-strong Jordanian team, which includes a pair of new Jordan Challenge Rally Team Mitsubishi Lancer Evolutions for Ala Khalifeh and Amir Al-Najjar, running under the management of former co-driver Malek Al-Hariri. Al-Najjar is the Rumman hillclimb record holder and is keen to repeat his successes in rallying.

Faris Bustami is more than capable of taking a top five finish in his Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution VIII, Mazan Tantash represents the Sports Academy Racing Team and Hamza Dirani wheels out a Team Jordan Mitsubishi. Fares Hijazi, Issa Abu Jamous and Ziad Masannat also line-up in Jordanian colours, alongside three female drivers, Nancy Al-Majali, Abir Batikhi and Tala Al-Shawa.

Cypriot Andreas Tsouloftas is a regular visitor to the Jordan Rally and badly needs to get his championship challenge back on track after crashing out of the Troodos Rally last month. Tsouloftas has been competitive on Dead Sea-style special stages in the past and will be pushing for a podium place this weekend. Fellow Cypriot Spyros Pavlides is also entered in a Subaru Impreza, but is not registered for the regional series.

The State of Kuwait hopes to enter the regional rally series in the next two years and several Kuwaiti drivers will be battling for honours in Jordan. Mufeed Mubarak leads the way in his Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution VIII and is joined at the Dead Sea by Salah Bin Eidan, Meshari Al-Thafiri, Hassan Voroudi, Essam Al-Nejadi, 1600 2WD leader Ahmad Al-Khrass and Shaker Al-Raies.

Al-Attiyah’s Qatar Team colleagues include Misfer Al-Marri, Abdulaziz Al-Kuwari, Ahmed Al-Kuwari and Khalifa Al-Attiyah. Abdulaziz currently lies eighth overall in the regional series, two places and five points behind Khalifa Al-Attiyah.

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is represented by Majed Al-Ghamdi in a Subaru Impreza WRX STi, while London-based Lebanese driver Nicholai Georgiou is also entered with co-driver Joseph Mattar.

Austria’s Andreas Wimmer and his German co-driver Michael Kolbach head an international entry, which includes Britain’s David Scialom and international drivers Daniel Levy, Yuval Melamed, Ehud Powitzer and the Cypriot Yiangos Yiangiou.

The competitive action kicks off on Friday morning with a 14.20km run through the Turki stage at 07.08hrs and this is followed by special stages in the Mount Nebo and Mai’n areas. Service and regrouping takes place from 09.49hrs on the shores of the Dead Sea and the three stages will be repeated from 10.44hrs.

After a second lunchtime service break, two special stages close to the Dead Sea and Mahes will be run twice in the afternoon, before the opening leg draws to an end from 18.00hrs. Leg two consists of a further eight special stages and takes place on Friday.

The three-day Jordan Rally has received valuable sponsorship from many companies and organisations in both the public and private sectors, including Jordinvest, Chinese car brand Chery, Capital Bank, Marriott Hotels, the King Hussein Ben Talal Convention Centre, Fastlink, Sawt Al Ghad and Riyadah.

Both the Ministry of Housing and Public Works have also worked tirelessly on the special stages and support from the Ministry of Tourism, Jordan Tourist Board and the Greater Amman Municipality and Higher Council of Youth has been crucial.

Leading starters
1. Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah (QA)/Chris Patterson (GB) Subaru Impreza WRX STi
2. Sheikh Khalid Al-Qassimi (UAE)/Nick Beech (GB) Subaru Impreza WRX STi
3. Amjad Farrah (HKJ)/Nicola Arena (I) Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution IX
4. Sheikh Abdullah Al-Qassimi (UAE)/Steve Lancaster (GB) Subaru Impreza WRX STi
5. Michel Saleh (RL)/Ziad Chehab (RL) Subaru Impreza WRX STi
6. Andreas Tsouloftas (CY)/Savvas Laos (CY) Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution IX
7. Faris Bustami (HKJ)/Burhan Abu Quora (HKJ) Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution VIII
8. Mufeed Mubarak (KWT)/Hamoud Al-Jabry (OM) Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution VIII
9. Misfer Al-Marri (QA)/Hamad Al-Marri (QA) Subaru Impreza WRX STi
10. Abdulaziz Al-Kuwari (QA)/Nasser Al-Kuwari (QA) Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution IX

2007 FIA Middle East Rally Championship – positions after round 3 of 8:
1. Sheikh Khalid Al-Qassimi (UAE) 23 pts
2. Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah (QA) 20 pts
3. Amjad Farrah (HKJ) 19 pts
4. Sheikh Abdullah Al-Qassimi (UAE) 14 pts
5. Michel Saleh (RL) 11 pts
6. Khalifa Al-Attiyah (QA) 8 pts
7. Nicholai Georgiou (GB) 5 pts
8. Andreas Wimmer (AT) 3 pts
8. Abdulaziz Al-Kuwari (QA) 3 pts
10. Mohammed Abdullah Al-Mannai (QA) 2 pts
11. Essam Al-Nejadi (KWT) 1 pt

For further media information:
Neil Perkins, 2007 Jordan Rally Media Office Manager, Media Centre, King Hussein Bin Talal Convention Centre, Dead Sea, Jordan, Tel: + (962) 7 95171401, UK Mobile: + 44 7831 123153 E-mail: NDPPublicity@compuserve.com
www.ndp-publicity.com (press releases)

www.jordanrally.com
www.merc-fia.com

Date issued: 10/05/2007

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