27 Apr 2017 - 22:48
As rallying in the Middle East faces some testing times, the biggest regional name in the sport, Nasser Saleh Al Attiyah, has underlined the importance of the upcoming Jordan Rally, which takes place from May 4-6.
02 May 2017 - 10:45
Qatari star Nasser Saleh Al Attiyah will debut his new Ford Fiesta R5 Evo 2 at this week’s FIA Jordan Rally, the second round of the FIA Middle East Rally Championship (MERC), taking place from May 4 to 6.
The Qatari, who is bidding for a record-breaking 11th victory in the Hashemite Kingdom’s premier motor sporting event, realises the importance of achieving a top finish at the Dead Sea after failing to finish the opening round of the series in Qatar.
Autotek Motorsport will run the car for the winner of 63 MERC rallies and team principal Ken Skidmore is relishing the challenge of continuing the Qatari’s winning streak at the lowest place on earth.
“Nasser will use the new car, it’s one of only eight built so far,” said Skidmore.
“The main difference between the R5 and the RRC (Regional Rally Car) is that the R5 has a 32mm air restrictor rather than the 30mm on the RRC car. I guess the RRC is a detuned World Rally Car and is much stronger component wise.
“On smooth surfaces, we expect the R5 cars to be faster than the RRC but, of course, when it gets rough, or if the driver slips off the road, then the R5 is more fragile. The car has only recently been homologated by the FIA.”
Meanwhile, a Finnish team will look after a Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X for the talented young Saudi Arabian driver Rakan Al Rashed. Running under the management of former top Finnish star Jussi Vällimäki, the
Lancer has been re-prepared by the team at the Dead Sea over the last few days and Al Rashed will test for the first time today (Monday) with Finnish navigator Jarkko Kalliolepo.
Vällimäki and his crew, who include chief mechanic Risto Tuominen - a five-time winner of the Finnish Rally Championship with Jouko Puhakka – found time to visit the Dead Sea and enjoy some relaxation time in between working on the Mitsubishi.
Al Rashed finished 49th on his rallying debut on ice in Finland and will be hoping to reach the finish in Jordan on this occasion after an accident forced him out on the final day last year.
The event gets underway with a new timed super special stage on the shores of the Dead Sea on Thursday.