Qatar’s Nasser Saleh Al Attiyah and his navigator Mathieu Baumel celebrate their victory.
Dead Sea: Nasser Saleh Al Attiyah and Mathieu Baumel rode through the final six gravel stages yesterday to secure a comfortable 15th victory at the 2022 Jordan Rally.
The Qatari drove an Autotek Volkswagen Polo GTi R5 to victory for the third time in Jordan, winning 11 of the 12 special stages in the Dead Sea and Jordan Valley areas of the Hashemite Kingdom and is now very close to a record-breaking 18th FIA Midpoint title in the East Rally Championship (MERC).
The win marked Al Attiyah’s 81st career MERC win and his third of the season, while his Andorra-based co-driver now has 29 wins to his name.
Al Attiyah, who had a lead of 9 minutes and 57.6 seconds, said: “I am very happy to win the Jordan Rally. I have a lot of experience and have driven here a lot. Many thanks to the organization for the great work. Winning 15 times here wasn’t easy, but the team worked very hard. We only need two or three points from Lebanon and Cyprus. We know we can be strong in any race. We need another Nasser Al Attiyah in the championship. We need people to continue the Middle East Championship. That’s important to us.”
The Lebanese duo of Alex Feghali and Joseph Matar overcame a minor turbo scare to secure second overall and first place in the MERC2 category.
Reigning MERC2 champion Meshari Al Thefiri failed to catch Feghali on the final day, but Kuwait-Qatar co-driver Nasser Al Kuwari still picked up valuable points in the showroom category, with their fight for the showroom category title being marked by the unfortunate retirement of the series leader, Jordanian Issa Abu Jamous was reinforced with car damage. Jordanian pairing Khaled Juma and Tareq Al Taher finished fourth overall in their Subaru Impreza WRX and clinched victory at the Jordan National Rally after a fierce duel with fifth-placed Hamada Odeh and Yazan Juma. In the battle for fourth place and victory in the national category, the crew was separated by just half a second.
Shadi Shaban and Samer Issa were given a notional time for stage five on Friday and were able to continue on day two. The Mitsubishi crew crossed the finish line in sixth place overall.
Abdullah Al Rawahi and Jordanian navigator Ata Al Hmoud had finished second overall in the first four stages on Friday and continued to show excellent pace on the final day after restarting in their Škoda Fabia R2 under Rally2 regulation. The Omani set the fastest time in stage 9 and a string of second-fastest times allowed him to climb back to seventh overall.
This crucial finish for Oman ensured Al Attiyah was mathematically unable to confirm a record-breaking 18th regional title ahead of the next round in Lebanon.