MERC: Hottest challenge yet for cool Al-Attiyah

FIA Middle East Rally Championship title contender Nasser Al-Attiyah takes his Qatar Rally Team backed Subaru Impreza WRC to the desert challenges of the Jordan International Rally (July 24-26)next week, looking to re-take the lead in the premier...

FIA Middle East Rally Championship title contender Nasser Al-Attiyah takes his Qatar Rally Team backed Subaru Impreza WRC to the desert challenges of the Jordan International Rally (July 24-26)next week, looking to re-take the lead in the premier Middle East series.

Sponsored by Qatar National Bank and Al Jazeera Satellite TV, the rapid Qatari driver will be partnered by Englishman Steve Lancaster from Selby in Yorkshire for the Amman based event, organised by the Royal Automobile Club of Jordan.

Al-Attiyah, a successful Olympic standard skeet shooter, is looking forward to the red hot event taking place in temperatures of 45 degrees celcius and more. Ranked at number one in Asia and number seven in the world rankings of skeet shooting, Al-Attiyah will once again be proudly helping to promote the 2006 Asian Games in Doha, Qatar as he takes the 2002 specification Autotek Motorsport run Subaru to Jordan for the first time.

Running second on the road behind works Peugeot entrant Abdullah Bakhashab, Nasser knows that he will have a tough battle on his hands with the French manufacturer increasing their involvement within the FIA Middle East series. The winner of the 2003 Qatar National Rally is very happy with the support he receives from Prodrive, Pirelli tyres and Autotek, and as a result, is feeling confident despite not finishing the recent Rally of Lebanon:

"The International Rally of Jordan is a very nice rally for me" commented Nasser from the team's base for the rallyinAmman. "The stages here suit my style of driving, and I think they will also suit the Subaru Impreza WRC very well too. The last event in Lebanon was a disappointment, but we are still in a very strong championship position, just one point off the lead."

"I have finished well on my last two outings in Jordan in a privately funded car. Third overall was my best finish to date, but I have much more professional support this time, and a great car. The stages near the Dead Sea are very challenging and the heat will certainly make for a tough time inside the Subaru. I'm very confident that the Qatar Rally Team has prepared very well for this rally so I think we can afford to look very closely at Bakhashab's times without taking any big risks on the rally. Its very important to get as many points as possible to keep our championship aspirations on course. If all goes to plan, I hope to be leading the championship again after the rally."

The first leg of the Rally starts from the Super Special Stage in the heart of the capital city of Amman. The second day takes Al-Attiyah and Lancastersouth through the twisty and smooth tracks of the Jordan desert,eventually returningto Parc Ferme at the Royal Automobile Club.

The third dayof the Rally sends the team westinto forest and mountain Special Stages, returning to the finish of the Rally with one more attempt at the Super Special Stage in Amman. With extremely high temperatures forecast for the rally, it will be a long and arduous test for team, but it is one they are ready for.

Start List - 2003 Jordan International Rally:
1 Abdullah Bakhashab/Bobby Willis Peugeot 206 WRC.
2 Nasser Al-Attiyah/Steve Lancaster Subaru Impreza WRC /Qatar Rally Team.
3 Marouf Abu Samra/Malek Harriri Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution VI.
4 Abdullah Al Qassimi/Tarek Al Warshaw Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution VII.
5 Michele Saleh/Ahmad Ghaziri Toyota Celica GT-4.

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About this article
Series Other rally
Drivers Bobby Willis , Nasser Al-Attiyah , Ahmad Ghaziri