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MERC Rally teams complete recce for Syrian International Rally

2007 Syrian International Rally
FIA Middle East Rally Championship, round 5 of 8

For immediate release
Wednesday, June 6th, 2007

TOP RALLY TEAMS COMPLETE TWO-DAY RECCE FOR
THIS WEEKEND’S SYRIAN INTERNATIONAL RALLY

Jordanian Farrah aims to push hard to gain momentum in title bid
Heavy rain forces organisers to regrade Syrian special stages

SEDNAYA (Syria): Thirty-three teams completed two days of reconnaissance of the special stages on Wednesday that they will tackle in the 7th Syrian International Rally on Friday and Saturday. The event is the fifth round of the FIA Middle East Rally Championship and has been organised by the Syrian Automobile Club (SAC) under the patronage of the Ministry of Tourism.

Before teams from nine countries arrived in Damascus and made their way north to the rally headquarters at the Sheraton Ma’aret Sednaya for documentation formalities, event officials had been working over recent days to ensure that the timed special stages to the north had been repaired following recent freak weather in the region.

Continuous heavy rain forced organisers to carry out regrading work on sections of the special stages. But clerk of the course Hani Sheban confirmed that damage was done to the stage surfaces by further rain as soon as the repairs had been made. “It was a frustrating and unfortunate start to our plans,” said Shaban.

Teams will tackle seven timed special stages in the Sabkha, Hafar and Baida areas on Friday and a further six on Saturday around Deir Atteyah, Mirah and Nabk. The ceremonial finish will take place in Sednaya from 16.35 hrs on Saturday.

Jordan’s Amjad Farrah currently lies second overall in the regional series and arrives in Syria fresh from finishing 29th overall and 12th in the P-WRC category of the recent Acropolis Rally in Greece. He trails the UAE’s Sheikh Khalid Al-Qassimi by a mere six points after four rounds and knows that this year could be his best ever chance of becoming the first ever Jordanian to register a regional championship title.

“I will plan my strategy here carefully,” said Amjad. “Khalid has to defend his lead in the championship and won’t want to take any risks. I can capitalise. Maybe if I push very hard it will put him under pressure. Nasser (Al-Attiyah) will also be driving for the win. He needs 10 points to get back into contention to defend his title. It may become a rally of strategies, but I realise that taking points is the critical factor.”

Austrian Andreas Wimmer is tackling the full FIA Middle East rally championship for the first time and currently lies ninth in the championship, following points finishes in Oman and Jordan. “The stages are so very different to Jordan,” said Wimmer. “They are more open desert stages and require a great deal of attention. Punctures could be a major problem here, so you push hard at your own risk. Several drivers had flat tyres during the recce and that makes me believe that settling into a steady pace could pay dividends.”

Meanwhile, former Jordan national champion Faris Bustami has joined forces with Faris Hizazi and Issa Abu Jamous as part of the Al-Hussein Rally Team. The trio will use three Mitsubishi Lancer Evolutions, although Hizazi will run as a course opening car in Syria with Bustami’s usual co-driver Emad Juma’a in the driving seat. Hijazi is the chairman of the Al-Hussein Irbid football club in Jordan.

The Jordanian teams line-up against a powerful Syria entry, which includes Mohammed Hamsho, Haitham Al-Yousefi, Bashar Abu Khoura, Ahmad Hamsho and Mirar Al-Homsi, A press conference took place on Wednesday evening in Sednaya, but the ceremonial start will take place in Damascus from 18.00hrs on Thursday evening.

Major support for this year’s Syrian International Rally comes from Hamsho International, with further sponsorship from the Sheraton Ma’aret Saydnaya, the Syrian Insurance Company, Radio Syria Alghad,
and Kawalees.

Ends

For further media information:
Lutfi Estwani, Arabic Press Officer, Tel: + 963 11 232 3706, Fax: + 963 11 231 2785, Mobile: + 963 93234445
or
Neil Perkins, NDP Publicity Services, International Press Officer, Syrian International Rally, NCH Building, Upper Bar, Newport, Shropshire, TF10 7EH, Tel: + (44) 1952 825078, Fax: + (44) 1952 825001, UK Mobile: + 44 7831 123153 E-mail: NDPPublicity@compuserve.com
www.ndp-publicity.com (press releases)

www.syrianrally.com
www.merc-fia.com


Date issued: 06/06/2007

For further information or assistance please contact:

NDP Publicity Services
Holly House, Station Road, Newport,
Shropshire TF10 7EN United Kingdom

Tel/Fax: +44 (0) 1952 825001
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