Local drivers out to thwart Salah bin Eidan's group N title challenge in Jordan Rally

Local drivers out to thwart Salah bin Eidan's group N title challenge in Jordan Rally

14.10.2015: JORDAN Rally 2015 2015 FIA Middle East Rally Championship, round 6

JORDAN Rally 2015
2015 FIA Middle East Rally Championship, round 6



•         Defending Group N champion Husam Salem heads local contingent

•         Weiss, Al-Naimi and Al-Thafiri in FIA Group N title contention
 


While most eyes will be on Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah’s quest for an 11th FIA Middle East Rally Championship title in 13 years at this weekend’s Jordan Rally, there is a secondary battle going on under the radar for the Middle East’s prized Group N crown.
 

Held in conjunction with the eight-round regional rally series and open to cars that are more reminiscent of those we see on our public highways, the Group N series has a strong following. Drivers are attracted by the availability of competitive cars, the lower budgets required to run a rally programme and a close level of competition.
 

Kuwaiti driver Salah bin Eidan arrives in the Hashemite Kingdom with a 30-point lead in the championship with three rallies to run - Jordan and Oman and Dubai in November. Eidan and American navigator Alex Gelsomino finished fifth overall in Jordan last season with a Ford Fiesta R5, but the Kuwaiti switched to a showroom category car for 2015 and teamed up with the Slovenian co-driver Vili Oslaj.
 

“The goal is obviously the championship title, but I know that a podium finish is possible here if some of the more powerful S2000 cars have problems,” said Bin Eidan. “We have had a good season so far and the target is a finish and more points on the board, but I would also like to finish as high as possible.”
 



Edith Weiss has been competing in the Middle East since the 1990s and is enjoying her best ever season. The Mitsubishi driver is a clear second in the points’ standings and will take the start of the Jordan Rally nine points in front of Qatar’s Rashid Al-Naimi.


A further point behind is the fourth-placed Kuwaiti driver Mishari Al-Thafiri, who finished 10th overall in Jordan last year. These are the only four drivers who can realistically win the 2015 Group N Championship.
 

But several Jordanian drivers are present to upset the applecart: Husam Salem teams up with Nancy Al-Majali for a second year and will be hoping to retain his Group N crown in Jordan. Salem finished a superb sixth overall last season with his Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution and a second maximum points score in 17 months could throw the title race wide open.
 

Ma’rouf Abu Samra has enjoyed missed fortunes in recent Jordan rallies and had planned to compete at the Dead Sea with navigator Nicolas Fanous. But plans to run a new car were thwarted by late logistical delays.
 



Other local competitors capable of causing a Group N upset include Khaled Juma, Ihab Al-Shorafa and the second female driver Lina Hadadi.
 

The event gets underway on Thursday afternoon with a full programme of activities, starting with the ceremonial start in Abdoub Circle from 14.30hrs and the opening 2.5km spectator stage, starting at 16.30hrs.
 


FIA Middle East Rally Championship – Group N standings after round 5:


1. Salah Bin Eidan (KWT)            75 pts
2. Edith Weiss (DEU)                     45 pts
3. Rashid Al-Naimi (QAT)             36 pts
4. Mishari Al-Thafiri (KWT)           35 pts
5. Nicolas Amiouni (LBN)           25 pts
6. Tamer Ghandour (LBN)            18 pts
6. Ali Mesgarha (IRN)                      18 pts, etc
 

 
Neil Perkins,  also photos

Permanent-URL: http://www.automobilsport.com/jordan-rally-salah-bin-eidan-group-n-title-challenge---142201.html

14.10.2015 / MaP

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