Jordan Baja gets underway with short stage in Aqaba City on Thursday

Jordan Baja gets underway with short stage in Aqaba City on Thursday

26.09.2018: 2018 Jordan Baja September 27-29, 2018 • Saudi Arabian driver Essa Al-Dossari tops regional field • Three-car Palestinian team enters trio of Jeep Wranglers

2018 Jordan Baja
September 27-29, 2018



•    Saudi Arabian driver Essa Al-Dossari tops regional field

•    Three-car Palestinian team enters trio of Jeep Wranglers

Months of meticulous planning and attention to detail will come to fruition for Jordan Motorsport when the exciting new Jordan Baja fires into life in Aqaba City on Thursday afternoon.

Twenty-two cars and five motorcycles will tackle a super special stage and four demanding desert selective sections on Friday and Saturday, as the Hashemite Kingdom bids to join the prestigious FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Rallies and a calendar that includes world famous events in Russia, the UAE, Qatar, Kazakhstan, Spain, Italy, Morocco, Hungary, Poland and Portugal.

The stunning Wadi Rum desert area of southern Jordan will play host to the competitive action for competitors from Jordan, Egypt, Palestine, the UAE, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia.

Ha’il Rally winner Essa Al-Dossari makes the short trip from neighbouring Saudi Arabia to top the entry with Emirati navigator Ali Hassan Obaid in a Nissan Navara. Al-Dossari set an impressive pace at the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge before his second-day accident and he starts as the favourite to become the first winner of the new cross-country rally.

“Everything is ready and we are looking forward to the rally now,” said ED Racing’s Al-Dossary at the service park. “We travelled nearly 2,000km from Al-Khobar in eastern Saudi Arabia to be here. I sent the car back to South Africa after the Desert Challenge accident and they rebuilt it and shipped it back to me. This is the first event for us since then.”

Logistical issues in the Red Sea meant that Yara Shalaby was unable to reach Aqaba by kayak from Taba as planned, but the Egyptian girl is relishing the start of the Baja with navigator Nouran Ashry in their Gazelle Rally Team Nissan Pathfinder. They are the only all-female crew on the starting list.

Salameh Al-Gammaz leads the local contingent with Yousef Juma in a new Toyota Prado. A regular competitor in national special stage rallies and the Jordan Rally, Al-Gammaz will be aiming for a podium finish on his home event.

The Jordanian driver said: “I am a rally driver but this is my first race on the sand, my first race in cross-country. I had a small test this morning in some dunes near Aqaba but, I guess, this could be a faster event. That will suit me better.”

Three all-Palestinian crews have entered in a trio of Jeep Wranglers entered in the T2.1 category. Osama El-Houashla, Mahmoud Al-Maabda and Ihab Al-Asibi will drive the four-wheel drive machines with Yousef Ilawena, Adnan Tiaha and Akram Abu Zkika reading the road books and looking after the navigation.

Meanwhile, Palestinian navigators Tawfiq Hraiz and Baha Dagher will co-drive Jordanian drivers Mahmoud Marouf and Amjad Al-Nashat in their respective Nissan Patrol and Land Rover Defender.

Kuwait’s hopes of success rest on the shoulders of Salem Al-Dhafeeri and his Emirati co-driver Ali Shahim. The Al-Dhafeeri family features regularly on entry lists in Kuwait national rallies and rounds of the FIA Middle East Rally Championship and Salem will be looking for T1 category success in his Nissan Patrol.

A fleet of experienced off-roading Saudi drivers boost the field. Ibrahim Al-Muhanna won the Hail Rally in 2014 in a Nissan Patrol and has vast knowledge of the Middle Eastern deserts from his participation in events in Qatar, the UAE and in Saudi Arabia. He and navigator Osama Al-Sanad are likely to push Al-Dossari hard from the start.

The T2 category for series production cross-country vehicles has been well supported and the likes of Fahed Al-Abdellatif, Al-Gammaz, Muneef Al-Salmani and Ahmed Al-Shammeri will be aiming for class honours.

Ata Al-Hmoud tops the five-strong Jordanian motorcycle entry that includes Hamza Zawahreh, Bader Abdul Jawad, Khaldoon Halabi and Saif Al-Zyoud.

The UAE’s Khalid Al-Jafla and local driver Ahmad Shaban are non-starters from the original entry list.

The two desert selective sections have also been revised slightly after a final route check by officials at Jordan Motorsport. The timed sections will run now for 121.21km and 64.93km, respectively.

Experienced Clerk of the Course George Khoury said: “We are looking forward to this new challenge in the deserts of Wadi Rum. We have concentrated on the safety aspect of the event. The Baja takes place on open tracks in the desert and we have been obliged to make a few very small changes to the route where families are living in the area.

“The stages will offer our competitors a mix of everything. We have rocky tracks, sandy surfaces, hard ground and fast places. They will have to be prepared for everything. This event is a candidate for the World Championship and we are going to the maximum to try and guarantee this championship for Jordan.”


Tomorrow will be a hectic opening day for everyone connected with the new Jordan Baja. Competitors will carry out a reconnaissance of the slightly shortened 3.00km super special stage in the morning before the official pre-event press conference gets underway on the start podium in the service area from 14.00hrs.

The ceremonial start takes centre stage from 15.00hrs on an area of Ayla’s all-encompassing new leisure development close to the Red Sea, a short distance from Aqaba City and with the stunning backdrop of the Shara mountains and the neighbouring Greg Norman-designed 18-hole golf course.

The twisty and potentially dusty special stage fires into life at 16.53hrs on an area of sand and recently-graded gravel close to the Desert Highway on the main access route into Aqaba City.


Follow the Jordan Baja live:



Neil Perkins, photos Jordan Rally


26.09.2018 / MaP

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