DEAD SEA, Jordan — Qatar’s Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah and Italian co-driver Giovanni Bernacchini mastered the conditions and controlled their pace to perfection to secure a comfortable victory in the 2013 Jordan Rally, round three of the FIA Middle East Rally Championship (MERC), here Saturday.
The Qatari duly clinched his 48th career MERC victory and his seventh in Jordan by the margin of 1min 42.2sec to take a 24–point championship lead into the summer break. The success also marked the 11th win for Ford in the 31-year history of the Jordan Rally.
“This was never going to be an easy rally and, for sure, this is the toughest event in this championship,” said a delighted Al-Attiyah. “Now I have three wins in three rallies and 75 points. The target at the start of the year was the championship but now I would like to win every rally this season — the grand slam!”
A string of fastest stage times enabled the Lebanese duo of Roger Feghali and Joseph Matar to sneak past Abu Dhabi Racing’s Sheikh Khalid Al-Qassimi and British co-driver Scott Martin to secure second position in their Motortune Ford Fiesta. Al-Qassimi retained second in the championship with third overall with his Citroën DS3.
Abdulaziz Al-Kuwari and Killian Duffy were never able to match the pace of the leading trio but the WRC 2 leaders were a solid fourth in the Seashore Ford Fiesta. Sheikh Abdullah Al-Qassimi and British co-driver Steve Lancaster finished fifth and Ma’rouf Abu Samra, a two-time national champion, and co-driver Malek Hariri finished sixth and were classified as the leading local crew in their Skoda Fabia S2000.
Abu Dhabi Racing’s Bader Al-Jabri and Jordanian Zeid Dahshan were separated by one tenth of a second after 12 special stages and Dahshan went on to win the Group N category in his Mitsubishi. Jordan’s Husam Salem lost the lead in SS11 with mechanical issues.
Mohammed Al-Mutawaa and Irish co-driver Stephen McAuley won the 2WD category with a Citroën DS3, the young Emirati also claiming the Junior category win. Action in the championship resumes with the Rally of Lebanon in September.