Jordan International Rally- LOCAL HEROES LINE UP TO TAKE ON REGION'S BEST

26.04.2005: Jordan International Rally- LOCAL HEROES LINE UP TO TAKE ON REGION'S BEST

FIA Middle East Rally Championship, round 5 of 9 

Amman, Jordan: While all eyes will be on an international battle royale to win next week's Jordan Rally, a host of local newcomers to the sport will be looking to make an immediate impact when the fifth round of the FIA Middle East Championship takes centre stage from May 5-7.

The region's biggest names will be tearing up Jordan's desert, mountain and forest tracks for two days following a spectacular opening ceremony in the heart of the city on May 5, but a strong local contingent is bidding to upset the big boys of regional rallying.

Names like Amjad Farrah, who became the first Jordanian to win this event last year, and Faris Bustami are well established on the regional scene, but 2005 is seeing new names emerge to underline the Kingdom's reputation as a regional hot bed for rallying talent.

Local businessman Mazen Tantash caught the bug five months ago when he competed in his first speed test, and is one of 13 Jordanian competitors in the 41-strong field.

"I have always been a fan of motorsport but like anything else you need to try it to become addicted," he said. "I took part in my first rally last month but unfortunately I didn't finish so my priority for the International is to complete the two days and a good finishing place is a bonus.

"I am new to the sport so I have a lot to learn. Some of these guys have been competing for 10 years or longer and I can learn a lot from them. My first event taught me that I have to be more patient as I overdid it a bit. I was second when I went out of the rally and should have taken more care. Rallying is more than driving flat out. It is very technical and you must form a strategy for each race and stick to it."

Tantash has invested considerable funds into ensuring his team has a professional look and he admires the effort and finance that many of his colleagues are also putting into their teams.

"It is not a cheap sport but we have to show the outside world that here in Jordan we are serious about our Motorsport and to portray a good image for the Kingdom to visitors," he added. "The World Rally Championship bid has given us all an incentive to raise our standards so we as competitors do not look out of place when it comes to Jordan. We are not professionals but such an aim justifies spending a lot of money on the sport."

There's a strong family theme to another impressive looking local team also competing in its first Jordan Rally. Zayed Al Baddad and Fateen Al Baddad will be taking the wheels of Subaru Impreza WRXs. Like Tantash, they made their debuts in rallying at the first National Rally last month with creditable drives.

The strength of the local entry has pleased the organizers with chairman Tarek Tabba'a reiterating that they are the lifeblood for the future strength of the sport in Jordan.

"It is fantastic to see so many well organized teams in the starting field," he said. "It shows that motorsport within the Kingdom is strong and I hope that the investment many of these people are putting into this sport is rewarded with some strong finishing positions next week."

The 2005 Jordan Rally will be launched with a spectacular ceremonial start in Abdoun from 3pm on May 5. Nineteen special stages will then be held over two days before reaching a colourful climax in Hussein Gardens on May 7th.

The event has also received a boost with support from the Ministry of Housing and Public Works, Greater Amman Municipality, Higher Council for Youth, Royal Jordanian and Jordan Tourism Board while Power Horse (Official Energy Drink), Chery International (Official Car), Marriott (Official Hotel), Fast Link (Official Network Provider) are confirmed as sponsors.

www.jordan-motorsport.com

by Neil Perkins

Permanent-URL: http://www.automobilsport.com/jordan-international-rally-uae-local-heroes-al-baddad-tourism---1857.html

26.04.2005 / MaP

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