15 May 2024

AMMAN (JORDAN): The Jordan Rally, one of the most iconic rallies in the Eastern ‎Hemisphere and a three-time former round of the FIA World Rally Championship ‎‎(WRC), gets underway at the lowest point on earth on Thursday evening. ‎

An entry that features 29 cars and competitors from nine nations will take the start ‎at a purpose-built podium in the event’s service park with the spectacular backdrop ‎of the Dead Sea and the neighbouring West Bank from 19.15hrs.‎

Crews will then tackle 15 demanding loose surface special stages in the Jordan ‎Valley and Dead Sea areas of the Hashemite Kingdom for honours on the second ‎round of the FIA Middle East Rally Championship (MERC). The event is being held ‎under the patronage of HRH Prince Feisal Al-Hussein, Chairman of Jordan ‎Motorsport.‎

Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah is chasing an unprecedented 20th MERC title since 2003 and ‎win number 16 in Jordan. Last year, he shared the Drivers’ Championship with ‎Abdullah Al-Rawahi and had to watch as the Omani snatched his first ever win in at ‎the Dead Sea.‎

Al-Attiyah’s challenge for that 20th title has not started well either: a puncture and ‎then suspension damage sidelined the Qatari from his home event in February and ‎he will take the start tomorrow evening without a point to his name in this year’s ‎championship. He and co-driver Giovanni Bernacchini do have a newŠkoda Fabia RS ‎at their disposal this weekend, however, with the car being run by Autotek ‎Motorsport.‎

While round one winner Pierre-Louis Loubet had never planned a full MERC ‎programme this year, Qatar runner-up Mads Østberg confirmed last weekend in ‎Portugal that he had planned to compete in Jordan with an SRT-run Škodabut ‎logistical issues had prevented that from happening. The Norwegian finished 13th ‎overall when the event was a round of the WRC for the last time in 2011.‎

SRT will now run a Fabia Rally2 Evo for Denis Krotov and his co-driver Yury Kulikov. ‎Krotov is better known for his programme of cross-country rallies with Overdrive ‎Racing and the X-Raid Mini JCW Team, with whom he finished eighth in last year’s ‎FIA W2RC Drivers’ Championship. ‎

Competition for the trio of Rally2 entrants comes from a pair of QMMF-supported ‎Škodas for Abdulaziz Al-Kuwari an Khalid Al-Suwaidi. Al-Kuwari holds fourth in the ‎Drivers’ Championship after round one and teams up with British co-driver Marshall ‎Clarke. Al-Suwaidi is a two-time winner of the Kuwait International Rally and teams ‎up with Ross Whittock, who arrives in Jordan fresh from achieving overall success at ‎last weekend’s Manx National Rally on the Isle of Man with James Williams. ‎

Bader Al-Fayez teams up with Lebanon’s Joseph Matar to drive a Rally1 Škoda for the ‎host nation and Qatari veteran Nasser Khalifa Al-Atya and co-driver Ziad Chehab ‎wheel out their Motortune-run Ford Fiesta. Al-Atya will be hoping to improve on his ‎current fifth place in the Drivers’ Championship. ‎

Local drivers dominate the MERC2 category after the opening round in Qatar: ‎Shaker Jweihan takes a six-point championship lead into the weekend’s action over ‎Shadi Shaban with Husam Salim holding third place. Ten drivers will compete in ‎MERC2 at the Dead Sea and they include Ameer Nassif, Ihab Al-Shorafa Fadi ‎Dahshan, Palestine’s Hamada Odeh, Lebanon’s Ahmad Khaled and Omani driver ‎Zakariya Al-Aamri.‎

The route devised by Clerk of the Course Loai Marei, his deputy Khaled Zakariya and ‎their team features a revised 195.20 competitive kilometres in a compact route of ‎‎575.48km.‎

The Mount Nebo area hosts the opening Panorama and Bahath stages on Friday ‎morning before competitors return to the Dead Sea area to complete the loop with a ‎pass through the aptly-named Baptism Site special.‎

A lunchtime service precedes a repeat run through each of the three speed tests and ‎a short blast through a 3.3km super special at the Dead Sea to round off the day’s ‎proceedings at 16.35hrs.‎

Saturday’s action features 109.42 competitive kilometres and is made up of two ‎passes through each of the Shuna, Rawda, Turki and Suwayma stages: Shuna is the ‎longest of the entire event at 20.93km. The podium and ceremonial finish (18.00hrs) ‎and the post-event press conference (18.30hrs) round off proceedings. ‎

This year's event is supported by Zain Jordan, Guarantee Travel Group, Hala and ‎Bliss FM.‎

‎2024 Jordan Rally – updated entry (top 18 only):‎

‎1.Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah (QAT)/Giovanni Bernacchini (POL) ‎Škoda F abia RS

‎2. Abdullah Al-Rawahi (OMN)/Ata Al-Hmoud (JOR) ‎ Škoda Fabia ‎

‎3. Abdulaziz Al-Kuwari (QAT)/Marshall Clarke (GBR)‎ Škoda Fabia RS

‎4. Nasser Khalifa Al-Atya (QAT)/Ziad Chehab (LEB) ‎ Ford Fiesta Mk II

‎5. Khalid Al-Suwaidi (QAT)/Ross Whittock (GBR)‎ Škoda Fabia RS

‎6. Denis Krotov (KGZ)/Yury Kulikov (CYP)‎ Škoda Fabia Evo

‎7. Bader Al-Fayez (JOR)/Joseph Matar (LEB) ‎ Škoda Fabia ‎

‎8. Shaker Jweihan (JOR)/Carlos Hanna (LEB) Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X

‎9. Shadi Shaban (JOR)/Samer Issa (JOR)‎ Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX

‎10. Issa Abu Jamous (JOR)/Emad Juma (JOR) Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX

‎11. Ameer Nassif (JOR)/Mustafa Juma (JOR)‎ Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX

‎12. Hamada Odeh (PLE)/Yazan Juma (JOR)‎ Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X

‎13. Husam Salim (JOR)/Nancy Al-Majali (JOR)‎ Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X

‎14. Fadi Dahshan (JOR)/Zeid Abu Zeid (JOR)‎ Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX

‎15. Ahmad Khaled (LEB)/Musa Djiyerian (JOR)‎ Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX

‎16. Zakariya Al-Aamri (OMN)/Mohammed Al-Mazroui (OMN) Subaru Impreza

‎17. Ihab Al-Shurafa (JOR)/Yousef Juma (JOR)‎ Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX

‎18. Shadi Al-Fakih (LEB)/Samer Sfeir (LEB)‎ Renault Clio R5‎

FIA Middle East Rally Championship – positions after round 1:‎

‎1. Pierre-Louis Loubet (FRA)‎ ‎33pts‎

‎2. Mads Østberg (NOR)‎ ‎29pts‎

‎3. Abdullah Al-Rawahi (OMN)‎ ‎25pts‎

‎4. Abdulaziz Al-Kuwari (QAT)‎ ‎21pts‎

‎5. Nasser Khalifa Al-Atya (QAT)‎17pts‎

‎6. Shaker Sjweihan (JOR)‎‎15pts‎

‎7. Shadi Shaban (JOR)‎ ‎13pts‎

‎8. Husam Salim (JOR)‎ ‎11pts‎

‎9. Rashid Al-Muhannadi (QAT)‎ ‎9pts‎

‎10. Ihab Al-Shorafa (JOR)‎ 7pts‎

‎11. Fabid Ahmer (IND)‎ ‎5pts‎

‎12. Saneem Payyakkal (IND)‎ ‎4pts‎

‎12. Khalid Al-Suwaidi (QAT)‎‎4pts‎

FIA MERC2 – positions after round 1:‎

‎1. Shaker Sjweihan (JOR)‎ ‎30pts‎

‎2. Shadi Shaban (JOR)‎ ‎24pts‎

‎3. Husam Salim (JOR)‎ ‎21pts‎

‎4. Rashid Al-Muhannadi (QAT)‎ ‎19pts‎

‎5. Ihab Al-Shorafa (JOR)‎ ‎17pts‎

‎6. Fabid Ahmer (IND)‎‎15pts‎