Qatar Nasser Al-Attiyah confirm 10th victory in Jordan Rally

Qatar Nasser Al-Attiyah confirm 10th victory in Jordan Rally

07.05.2016: Jordan Rally 2016 FIA Middle East Rally Championship, round 3 Saturday, May 7th, 2016

Jordan Rally
2016 FIA Middle East Rally Championship, round 3
Saturday, May 7th, 2016




•    Abdullah Al-Kuwari wins MERC 2; Husam Salem retires near the end 

•    Abdulaziz Al-Kuwari fights back under Rally 2 to take second overall


 

Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah may have eased his pace over the closing stages of the Jordan Rally, but the Qatari was still in inspired form and a whitewash of each of the 19 special stages was enough to give the Skoda Fabia R5 driver a staggering winning margin of 18min 18.4sec.
 

A 10th victory in the Hashemite Kingdom and a 63rd in his FIA Middle East Rally Championship (MERC) career was never really in doubt once eventual runner-up Abdulaziz Al-Kuwari left the road on Friday afternoon, before clawing his way back from fifth to second place in a second Skoda Fabia R5.
 

But the Qatari and French co-driver Matthieu Baumel rarely seemed to break sweat after a dominant weekend.


“It was important that I came here with a focus to win the rally and claim the maximum 39 points for winning both legs and the event,” said Al-Attiyah, who now has a massive MERC series lead after three rounds.
 

“I was able to control the race from the very start and set my own pace. Whoever wants to compete outside in the World Championship needs to first beat Nasser Al-Attiyah in the Middle East!”
 



On an event held in conjunction with the celebrations of 100 years since the Great Arab Revolt, it was fitting that two Jordanian drivers should be involved in the fight in the desert to decide the winner of MERC 2.


Khaled Juma held all the aces in the pack at the start of the day, but Husam Salem returned with a vengeance and a rebuilt car and began to eat into his rival’s advantage throughout the morning.
 

Salem was closing fast on Juma when the latter’s Mitsubishi reached a real low point at the Baptism Site and spluttered to a halt in the water splash, the 17 minutes lost wrecking the local national championship’s podium dream and handing Salem the lead.
 

But Husam lost five minutes in the penultimate stage before retiring and leaving the door open for Abdullah Al-Kuwari, the Qatari duly confirming a 1-2-3 podium finish for the gas-rich state. It was also the first All-Qatari podium outside Qatar in MERC history.
 

Khalid Al-Suwaidi overhauled Juma in the 17th stage to snatch fourth position after Salem’s late demise, while the Jordanian (Juma) managed to reach the finish in fifth after Kuwait’s Meshari Al-Thefiri withdrew three stages from the end with transmission issues.
 

Lebanon’s Rodolphe Asmar was sixth, Jordan’s Ihab Al-Shorafa finished seventh and Qatar’s Rashed Al-Nuami recovered from a second stage crash to collect points for eighth overall. Only eight of the original 15 cars reached the end.
 

“Motor sport has a rich tradition here in Jordan from the legacy of King Hussein. King Abdullah is also keen on motor sport and we work as a team to promote the sport,” said HRH Prince Feisal Al-Hussein, chairman of Jordan Motorsport.
 

“We are surrounded, here in Jordan, by war and political problems, but we want to see sport thrive in the region. We are keen for the WRC to return here and want to see what the promoter requires for this to progress. I am delighted with the work done this week by my team at Jordan Motorsport.”
 




2016 Jordan Rally – positions after SS19 (unofficial @ 16.55hrs):




1. Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah (QAT)/Matthieu Baumel (FRA) Skoda Fabia R5    2hr 42min 02.2sec

2. Abdulaziz Al-Kuwari (QAT)/Killian Duffy (IRL) Skoda Fabia R5        3hr 00min 20.6sec

3. Abdullah Al-Kuwari (QAT)/Adel Hussein (QAT) Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X    3hr 07min 40.9sec

4. Khalid Al-Suwaidi (QAT)/Giovanni Bernacchini (ITA) Ford Fiesta R5        3hr 21min 14.5sec

5. Khaled Juma (JOR)/Faris Al-Tal (JOR) Mitsubishi Lancer Evo VII        3hr 23min 55.9sec

6. Rodolphe Asmar (LEB)/Joseph Matar (LEB) Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX        3hr 37min 14.4sec

7. Ihab Al-Shorafa (JOR)/Hazem Attiyat (JOR) Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX        3hr 45min 19.2sec

8. Rashid Al-Nuami (QAT)/Nicola Arena (ITA) Subaru Impreza            4hr 14min 42.6sec
 


- Neil Perkins also photos

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07.05.2016 / MaP

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