DEAD SEA (JORDAN): Special stage action in the Jordan Rally, round three of the 2023 FIA Middle East Rally Championship (MERC), gets under way in the Dead Sea and Jordan Valley areas of the Hashemite Kingdom on Friday morning.
Competitors were flagged away from a spectacular ceremonial start adjacent to the Dead Sea in the grounds of the Dead Sea Marriott Resort and Spa on Thursday evening. The event is being held under the patronage of H.R.H. Prince Feisal Al-Hussein, Chairman of Jordan Motorsport.
Twenty-three crews and competitors from six nations had completed their reconnaissance of the special stages on Wednesday afternoon and are relishing the two-day challenge ahead. Seventeen are eligible for the FIA event and a further six will only be able to score points for for the National Championship.
Pre-event favourite and 15-time event winner Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah said: “Jordan is a special rally for me. It was where I came at the very start of my career and I have a good record on this rally. I enjoy the stages. They are very challenging and a pleasure to drive. We made a good test, a short one, but no issues with the car. We know these stages well and know that you have to be careful in some places.”
Abdullah Al-Rawahi won the opening round of the MERC in Oman in his Škoda Fabia R5 before retiring from round two in Qatar with an engine failure. The Omani is hoping to push Al-Attiyah all the way this weekend.
He said: “We have worked on the details of the set-up to adapt it to my driving style and it is going really well. We had the pace in Oman. That was something positive to take. We were in Jordan about three weeks’ back and won the national event. We were preparing for this rally.
“Me and Ata (Al-Hmoud) worked really hard on the notes and the times on the stages were really good on the local rally. I think we are coming in really strong on this rally and will try to be close to Nasser. If we can challenge him, it will be really nice for us and the spectators.”
Before the ceremonial start, Al-Attiyah was joined at the pre-event press conference by title rival Al-Rawahi, MERC2 front-runners Meshari Al-Thefiri, Roger Feghali, Shaker Jweihan, last year’s FIA MERC2 champion Issa Abu Jamous and veteran Ziad Miqdad, who will retire from the sport after this event.
Support for this year’s event comes from Zain Jordan, Hala and Bliss FM.
Three special stages will be used twice on day one before a short stage at the Dead Sea. The timed competition gets under way with a run through the 9.49km Yakrut stage (first car - 09.29hrs) that carves its way across winding off-road trails to the left of the main desert link road between Amman and the Dead Sea hotel area.
The mammoth Jordan River stage of 40.79km (first car - 10.42hrs) is next on the agenda close to the frontier with the West Bank and the surface has benefitted from a lack of rain in the last few weeks. The loop is completed by a run through the Baptism Site stage of 11.34km (first car – 11.45hrs).
The three specials are then repeated from 13.31hrs, 14.44hrs and 15.47hrs, respectively, after a return to the Dead Sea for a lunchtime regroup and service. The day’s action concludes with a short 3.48km special stage close to the Dead Sea from 16.30hrs.
2023 Jordan Rally – start list (FIA):
1. Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah (QAT)/Mathieu Baumel (AND) Volkswagen Polo GTI R5
2. Abdullah Al-Rawahi (OMN)/Ata Al-Hmoud (JOR) Škoda Fabia Evo
3. Roger Feghali (LEB)/Joseph Matar (LEB) Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X
4. Shaker Jweihan (JOR)/Taha Al-Zadjali (OMN) Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X
5. Meshari Al-Thefiri (KWT)/Nasser Al-Kuwari (QAT) Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X
6. Ameer Nassif (JOR)/Mohammed Attari (JOR) Subaru Impreza
7. Issa Abu Jamous (JOR)/Ghassan Zawaideh (JOR) Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX
9. Shadi Shaban (JOR)/Samer Issa (JOR) Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX
10. Ahmad Khaled (LEB)/Joseph Kmeid (LEB) Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX
11. Sheikh Bader Al-Fayez (JOR)/Emad Juma (JOR) Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X
12. Sami Fleifel (JOR)/Samer Sfeir (LEB) Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX
13. Ihab Al-Shorafa (JOR)/Yousef Juma (JOR) Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX
14. Yousef Al-Dhafeeri (KWT)/Carlos Hanna (LEB) Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X
15. Zakariya Al-Aamri (OMN)/Mohammed Al-Mazroui (OMN) Subaru Impreza
17. Mustafa Al-Atari (JOR)/Zeid Abu Zaid (JOR) Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X
19. Fadi Dahshan (JOR)/Yazan Juma (JOR) Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX
20. Salem Al-Dhafeeri (KWT)/Fares Al-Thefiri (KWT) Subaru Impreza
2023 Jordan National Rally – start list:
16. Feisal Al-Ghammaz (JOR)/Fayez Al-Ghammaz (JOR) Mitsubishi Lancer Evo VII
18. Nancy Al-Majali (JOR)/Nadia Shnoudeh (JOR) Mitsubishi Lancer Evo VI
22. Asem Aref (JOR)/Ahmad Jankhout (JOR) Subaru Impreza
23. Hashem Kalbouneh (JOR)/Mustafa Al-Bitar (JOR) Black Iris
24. Ghaith Qubti (JOR)/Tarek Al-Assad (JOR) Range Rover
25. Ziad Miqdad (JOR)/Amer Mousa (JOR) Renault Clio