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Al-Attiyah eases to victory in Jordan
Published in The Saudi Gazette on 20 - 10 - 2008

Qatar's Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah and Ulster co-driver Chris Patterson benefited from the 11th stage retirement of Lebanon's Roger Feghali and his Italian co-driver Giovanni Bernacchini to seal an emphatic victory in the Jordan Rally, the fifth round of the FIA Middle East Rally Championship, at the Dead Sea on Saturday.
The win marked the Qatari's fourth Jordan Rally success in the last six years.
After 11 stages of frantic competition between the two rivals, Feghali held a lead of over 98 seconds heading into the Mahes stage, but a cruel fuel pump failure sidelined the Lebanese driver's Mitsubishi and handed a comfortable lead and eventual win to a delighted Al-Attiyah.
“To win a rally, first you have to finish,” admitted Al-Attiyah. “Everyone was impressed by Roger's performance and he was unfortunate to have a technical problem. But we came here with a game plan and it has worked perfectly. I needed to claim maximum points. I said before the start that I needed to get the win and we are pleased with this result.”
London-based Lebanese driver Nick Georgiou finished a distant second and increased his advantage over Cypriot Nicos Thomas in the battle for the coveted Pirelli Star Driver award, while Jordan's Ameer Najjar rounded off the top three and gave the host nation a podium finish. Oman's Nizar Al-Shanfari made it five finishes from as many events to add to his points' tally with fourth overall and the redoubtable Lebanese veteran Michel Saleh was fifth.
Al-Attiyah faced an uphill struggle to claw back 1min 47.1sec over the final nine special stages on Saturday, although Feghali did have a slight disadvantage of running first on the road over stages that had been run in reverse and ‘cleaned' on Friday.
Sheikh Suhail Bin Khalifa Al-Maktoum struggled through the 10th stage with serious mechanical problems after an accident and retired.
Three members of the Abu Dhabi Junior Rally Team entered the Jordan event for the first time and Majed Al-Shamsi was the class of the field in his Ford Fiesta.
The Abu Dhabi rookie began day two in 16th overall and had been as high as 12th place before drive train trouble forced him into retirement. Khalil Al-Sheikh lost 15 minutes in SS11 after an accident but headed Bader Al-Jabri back to the Dead Sea, on an event where all three drivers gained priceless experience.
Regional championship contenders now switch their attentions to the penultimate round of the series in Cyprus at the start of November. __


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