AMMAN, Jordan (eTN) – Jordan is well known for many years as a country that supports sports in general and rally championships in particular; Jordanians are in love with the Rally and Formula 1, in addition to the speed test organized by The Royal Automobile Club of Jordan. Round 7 of the Rally will be held in the Dead Sea, Mount Nebo, and Sweimeh area in Jordan. The opening ceremony will be located in Abdoun circle area in Amman on Thursday, October 29 at 3:00 pm.
The Middle East’s leading rally stars began their final preparations for the 2009 Jordan Rally on Tuesday morning.
Teams are permitted to pass through the special stages that constitute the route format over a two-day period. They must adhere to strict speed limits laid out by the FIA.
The regional rally series may well have reached its low point in terms of altitude – rally headquarters at the Dead Sea, situated 400 meters below sea level – but the action on the gravel tracks is likely to be fierce, as Qatar’s Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah and Misfer Al-Marri are joined by Saudi Arabia’s Yazeed Al-Rajhi in a three-way battle to decide the destiny of this year’s regional championship title.
Amjad Farrah is the only Jordanian driver ever to win a round of the regional series, sponsored in this Rally by Holiday Inn Resort Dead Sea – he won his home event in dramatic circumstances in 2004 with none other than Khalid Zakaria as co-driver – but this season has been a disappointing one for local drivers. No Jordanian has scored a Drivers’ Championship point, and Farrah will be hoping to set the record straight when the 154th event in the history of the regional series finishes at the Dead Sea on Saturday afternoon.
Farrah teams up with former driver Nancy Al-Majali and heads the local contingent from seventh position.
The Holiday Inn Resort Dead Sea is sponsoring the Jordan Rally driver Amjad Farrah as part of their dedication and support to sports events in Jordan. Overlooking the world’s most magical seas sits the newly-opened Holiday Inn Resort Dead Sea. Built on 41,000 square meters, the resort offers a place where you can relax and rejuvenate year round.
This resort is designed for the Perfect Night’s Sleep with it’s 202 guest rooms where all are tastefully appointed with the modern traveler in mind, superbly comfortable beds with a choice of pillows, flat screen TV, high-speed Internet connection, mini bar, in-room coffee/tea tray, in-room safe, and much more.
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Mazen Tantash has recruited the services of Spanish co-driver Carlos del Barrio for his challenge in a third Jordanian Mitsubishi Lancer. Barrio is a former member of the Citroën World Rally Team and co-drove for the likes of Jesus Puras and Dani Sordo at the start of his rallying career.
Other local entrants include Abir Al-Batikhi in her Subaru Impreza WRX, Faris Hijazi and Ahmad Mihyar in a Mitsubishi, but Ammar Hijazi is a non-starter off the original entry list.
Al-Rajhi won his first round of the series in Syria back in June, but the Saudi blotted his copybook with two mistakes in Cyprus earlier this month and lost his championship lead to the flying Al-Attiyah. Al-Rajhi has the pace to match Al-Attiyah on the stages, but will need to keep his natural exuberance restrained this weekend. A non-finish could cost him dearly, and he needs to take the fight to the final round in Dubai by keeping the pressure on Al-Attiyah.
While Qatar’s Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah and Misfer Al-Marri will embark upon a fascinating showdown with Saudi Arabia’s Yazeed Al-Rajhi for overall championship points at the front of the field, Lebanon’s Nick Georgiou – who holds equal fourth in the points’ standings – will be ensuring that he keeps his car in one piece in advance of the crucial finale to the Pirelli Star Driver competition in Dubai next month.
Lebanese drivers have a strong presence on the entry list, with Roger Feghali – the fourth most successful driver in the history of the regional series with seven wins – lining up at number six in his Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution IX. Each of his MERC wins have come on the Rally of Lebanon, but Feghali pushed Al-Attiyah for long periods in Cyprus recently and has led events in Dubai and Jordan in the past.
The third Lebanese entrant is veteran Michel Saleh and co-driver Ahmed Ghaziri. Saleh was the winner of the first two, non-championship Jordan rallies in 1981 and 1982 and has tackled more rounds of the regional series than any other driver. He has lost none of his enthusiasm for the sport over a 28-year timeframe and will be pushing hard for the top five from the start.
Sheikh Abdullah Al-Qassimi took his sole MERC win in the UAE International Rally and is seeded at four with British co-driver Steve Lancaster. The Emirati is a multiple regional Group N champion and one of two representatives from the UAE, which will host the final round of the series in December. Rashid Al-Ketbi has the turn of speed to spring a surprise and he and co-driver Khalid Al-Kendi complete the UAE line-up in a new Subaru.
David Scialom represents the United Kingdom in his Subaru Impreza, Saudi Arabia’s Ahmed Al-Sabban wheels out his Toyota S2000 and Qatar’s entry is boosted by the presence of Khalid Al-Suwaidi. There is also an Egyptian entry for Hassan Ali Abdel Baset at the wheel of a Mitsubishi Evolution VIII.
The official opening ceremony gets at 3:00 pm on Thursday afternoon, and Jordanian singing sensation Omar Abdallat is set to perform at 4:00 pm.