(MENAFN - Gulf Times) The Jordan Rally, round two of the 2019 FIA Middle East Rally Championship, gets underway at Abdali Boulevard in the heart of Amman today evening. The ceremonial start will take place from 19.15hrs and gives spectators the opportunity to see the cars and drivers in the capital of the Hashemite Kingdom before the on-stage action switches to the sinuous gravel trails of the Dead Sea and Jordan Valley areas on Friday and Saturday.
Officials at Jordan Motorsport have completed the repairs and tweaks to the special stages, following recent inclement weather conditions, and a favourable weather forecast for the weekend lays the foundations for two days of classic rallying action near to the lowest point on earth.
Qatari ace Nasser Saleh al-Attiyah is the defending champion and a 12-time winner of the Jordan Rally. His French co-driver Matthieu Baumel has won the event on five occasions, but both are trying to clinch a first success in their new Volkswagen Polo GTI R5.
Fresh from winning the recent Merzouga Rally in Morocco with al-Attiyah at the helm of a lightweight Can-Am Maverick X3, Baumel said: 'I am really surprised. Despite the weather, the organisers have done a very good job. All the tracks are well prepared. It is going to be a nice rally. I think we will beat the best times on some stages this year because the piste is well prepared.
Reigning MERC 2 champion Meshari al-Thefiri of Kuwait also leads this year's showroom category after his win in Qatar last month. Speaking of the recce, he said: 'The stages are very good and the tracks are in perfect condition, not like last year when we had the late rain and it was very slippery. It is good for me. The goal is maximum points and maximum speed, flat out on the first loop, to kill off my rivals and to win again.
Henry Kahy of Lebanon is the defending FIA MERC 3 champion and his Jordanian co-driver Musa Djiyerian said: 'Full credit to the organisers. Amazing stages. You cannot even see that the stages were damaged at all. It will be flat out for us in the front-wheel drive category.
'Recce went very well and then we had documentation today and then some testing. Henry is feeling confident with the notes and the car. Last year was his first time behind the wheel of the Škoda. After one year with the car, he is feeling good, especially here in Jordan. The weather forecast is good. We have missed the sun in Jordan in recent days…
Today, attention focuses on the ceremonial start for the Jordan Rally in the heart of Amman at Abdali Boulevard. Several drivers will attend the pre-event press conference on the start podium from 18.15hrs and cars will then cross the start podium in reverse order from 19.15hrs.