The 2022 Jordan Rally, round four of the 2022 FIA Middle East Rally Championship (MERC), gets underway with a ceremonial start at the Royal Automobile Museum in Amman on Thursday afternoon.
Qatar’s Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah has won the regional title on 17 occasions and amassed 80 MERC event wins, including 14 in the Hashemite Kingdom. While French legend Sébastien Loeb bids for his 81st WRC win at this weekend’s Rally of Portugal, Al-Attiyah will be aiming for a similar feat in the MERC over 4000 kilometres away at the lowest point on earth. Away from traditional special stage rallies, both drivers are now great rivals in the new FIA World Rally-Raid Championship.
Partnered by Andorra-based navigator Mathieu Baumel at the wheel of an Autotek Volkswagen Polo GTi, the Qatari currently holds a 50-point MERC series lead over Jordanian driver Issa Abu Jamous, with the latter switching his focus to defending a sizeable lead in the MERC2 category. Baumel was forced to miss the opening round in Oman through illness and the Frenchman only leads the Co-Drivers’ Championship by 11 points from Emad Juma as a result.
Al-Attiyah said: “I’m really happy to come back here to Jordan. It’s my favourite rally and it’s round four of the Middle East this year. It will not be easy for everybody. Also, this year, we have the long stage that we used before in the WRC. This will be tough for everybody. We will prepare. The atmosphere is always nice here in Jordan.
“This year has been a good year for us. We started by winning Dakar and then we won the two Middle East Championship rallies in Oman and Qatar. Kuwait, we finished second. We need to be clever here. If we win, we should win the championship. We need to enjoy and share the experience with everybody.”
Standing in the way of Al-Attiyah achieving his goal will be two rivals in similar R5 machines and a further 23 entrants across the various classes and categories.
Oman’s Abdullah Al-Rawahi teams up with local co-driver Ata Al-Hmoud to drive his Škoda Fabia R2 evo, while Al-Attiyah’s cousin Nasser Khalifa Al-Atya will be partnered by Italian navigator Giovanni Bernacchini in a Ford Fiesta R5.
Al-Rawahi and Al-Atya currently hold third and fourth places in the Drivers’ Championship, with the former looking to bounce back from a heavy landing that damage his Fabia’s radiator and caused engine damage at the last event in Kuwait.
Al-Atya was runner-up in the regional rally series back in 1993 and would dearly love to repeat the feat 29 years later. His only win in the MERC to date came at the Qatar International Rally the same year.
Bernacchini, on the other hand, is the equal third most successful co-driver in the history of the championship. He is tied with Chris Patterson on 25 wins, thanks to his multi-year stint alongside Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah. Only Ronan Morgan (41 wins) and Baumel (28 wins) have a better record in the region.
Tomorrow (Thursday), vehicles will pass through scrutineering checks before several of the leading drivers attend the pre-event press conference (17.45hrs) that precedes the ceremonial start (18.00hrs onwards).
Support for this year’s event comes from Zain Jordan, Mountain Dew, the Guarantee Travel Group, Hala and Bliss FM.
2022 Jordan Rally – entry list:
|1. Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah (QAT)/Mathieu Baumel (AND)||Volkswagen Polo GTI|
|2. Abdullah Al-Rawahi (OMN)/Ata Al-Hmoud (JOR)||Škoda Fabia R2 evo|
|3. Nasser Khalifa Al-Atya (QAT)/Giovanni Bernacchini (ITA)||Ford Fiesta R5|
|4. Meshari Al-Thefiri (KWT)/Nasser Al-Kuwari (QAT)||Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X|
|5. Asem Aref (JOR)/Ahmad Jankhout (JOR)||Renault Clio RS 182|
|6. Issa Abu Jamous (JOR)/Emad Juma (JOR)||Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX|
|7. Alex Feghali (LEB)/Joseph Matar (LEB)||Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX|
|8. Shaker Jwihan (JOR)/Nancy Al-Majali (JOR)||Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X|
|9. Shadi Shaban (JOR)/Samer Issa (JOR)||Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX|
|10. Zakariya Al-Aamri (OMN)/Mohammed Al-Aamri (OMN)||Subaru Impreza|
|11. Khalid Juma (JOR)/Tareq Al-Taher (JOR)||Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X|
|12. Yousef Al-Dhafeeri (KWT)/Carlos Hanna (LEB)||Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X|
|14. Ihab Al-Shorafa (JOR)/Yousef Juma (JOR)||Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX|
|15. Mohammed Al-Thefiri (KWT)/Suleiman Al-Helal (KWT)||Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X|
|16. Hamad Odeh (JOR)/Yazan Juma (JOR)||Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X|
|17. Ameer Nassif (JOR)/Musa Djiyerian (JOR)||Subaru Impreza|
|18. Yousef Al-Asmar (JOR)/Mohammed Atari (JOR)||Subaru Impreza|
|19. Salameh Al-Ghammaz (JOR)/Fayez Al-Ghammez (JOR)||Mitsubishi Lancer Evo VI|
|20. Sami Fleifel (JOR)/Ahmad Al-Khatib (JOR)||Mitsubishi Lancer Evo V|
|21. Amjad Al-Anasweh (JOR)/Amer Mousa (JOR)||Mitsubishi Lancer Evo VII|
|22. Bader Al-Fayez (JOR)/Mustafa Juma (JOR)||Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X|
|23. Fadi Dahshan (JOR)/Mohammed Rasheed (JOR)||Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX|
|24. Ibrahim Ali (JOR)/Ahmad Al-Shgerat (JOR)||Renault Clio|
|25. Faris Said (JOR)/Jad Nabas (JOR)||Can-Am Maverick X3|
|26. Motab Al-Shammeri (SAU)/Bader Al-Ajami (KWT)||Nissan Patrol|
|27. Hashem Kalbouneh (JOR)/Mustafa Al-Bitar (JOR)||Black Iris|
2022 FIA Middle East Rally Championship – standings after round 3:
|1. Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah (QAT)||109pts|
|2. Issa Abu Jamous (JOR)||59pts|
|3. Abdullah Al-Rawahi (OMN||54pts|
|4. Nasser Khalifa Al-Atya (QAT)||49pts|
|5. Ihab Al-Shorafa (JOR)||39pts|
|6. Khalid Al-Suwaidi (QAT)||38pts|
|7. Meshari Al-Thefiri (KWT)||30pts|
|8. Mohammed Al-Thefiri (KWT)||25pts|
|9. Zakariya Al-Aamri (OMN)||24pts|
|10. Edith Weiss (QAT)||13pts, etc|
|1. Mathieu Baumel (FRA)||70pts|
|2. Emad Juma (JOR)||59pts|
|3. Ata Al-Hmoud (JOR)||54pts|
|4. Giovanni Bernacchini (ITA)||49pts|
|5. Alba Sanchéz Gonzaléz (ESP)||39pts|
|5. Yousef Juma (JOR)||39pts|
|7. Hugo Magalhāes (PRT)||38pts|
|8. Nasser Al-Kuwari (QAT)||30pts|
|9. Mubarak Al-Dhafiri (KWT)||25pts|
|10. Mohammed Al-Aamri (OMN)||24pts, etc|
Source : Fia