Qatar’s Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah completely dominated the 2021 Jordan Rally to confirm an historic 14th victory on the event by the winning margin of 17min 04.8sec on Saturday. The Volkswagen Polo GTi driver and his Andorra-based co-driver Matthieu Baumel won each of the 10 special stages in the Dead Sea and Mount Nebo areas to extend their leads in the FIA Middle East Rally Championship (MERC).
Al-Attiyah is bidding for a record-breaking 17th regional title this year, as he secured a 78th career MERC event win and Baumel sealed personal win number 2
Al-Attiyah said: “This is a good feeling. A good day. It was a nice rally for us. A win again, 14 times in Jordan, and we have a good lead in the Middle East Championship. The next step will be Lebanon Rally and we try to defend our title.
Kuwait’s Meshari Al-Thefiri began the day with a 40.8-second cushion at the head of the MERC2 category and the second-placed Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X driver confirmed another ‘showroom’ class success after nearest rival Alex Feghali opted to drive cautiously over the final day to conserve a first ever podium place on an MERC rally.
“All is good and thank god we passed all the stages and made it to the end,” said Feghali. “This is the first time we finished this rally and I am on the podium, so that is amazing.”
Shadi Sheban missed out on a second Jordan National Rally victory to a resurgent Khaled Juma, but had the consolation of finishing a career-best fourth in the FIA event and being the first Jordanian home. He also takes an early lead in the National Championship following a win and a second place over the two days.
A flat tyre and front differential issues cost Lebanon’s Shadi El-Fakih a lot of time on the opening two stages of the final day and he slipped into the clutches of Qatar’s Nasser Khalifa Al-Atya after incurring time penalties for leaving service late and then going OTL in stage nine. Al-Atya duly claimed fifth overall with Italian navigator Giovanni Bernacchini.
Saudi Arabia’s Saleh Al-Saif restarted under Rally2 after his accident and drive shaft woes on Friday and the Can-Am Maverick X3 driver climbed back to sixth place. That pushed local driver Ihab Al-Shorafa down to seventh and MERC3 category winner Asem Aref into eighth.
Defending two-wheel drive champion Henry Kahy also restarted under Rally2 and rounded off the finishers in ninth overall.
Source: automobilsport (Neil Perkins ndppublicity)