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Autotek mechanics prepare Nasser Saleh Al Attiyah's Volkswagen for the Jordan Rally, at the Dead Sea staging area, on Tuesday (Photo courtesy of Jordan Rally Media Service)
AMMAN — Competitors have arrived at the Dead Sea and are carrying out their last minute preparations for this weekend's Jordan Rally, round two of the 2019 FIA Middle East Rally Championship, according to the Jordan Rally Media Service.
Unusual weather conditions have forced rally organisers to make further small changes to the route. While many parts of northern Europe basked in glorious sunshine and warm Easter holiday temperatures, the Levant region has sustained heavy rain and even the occasional snow flurry.
Temperatures are set to climb dramatically this week and should be around 30ºC at the Dead Sea by the weekend, but Jordan Motorsport was forced into late minor route revisions and has done away with the second run through the Dead Sea super special stage before the ceremonial finish on Saturday.
'We had torrential rain for the last four weeks actually. We had to redo the itinerary totally. Our famous Jordan River stage was initially planned but, because of the rain, we had to reinvent the itinerary from scratch. We came up with 244km of special stages,' said George Khoury, clerk of the course.
'We actually had snow a few days ago. Some areas in the south of Jordan were covered in snow. They were white over. We were inspecting them for the last 48 hours and we are happy that they have held to their status. There have been minor fixes here and there and we are working on that now.
'This year we will not be running the super special stage on Thursday. We concentrated on the ceremonial start in Abdali in the heart of Amman. We wanted to increase the exposure of the event, give competitors' sponsors more marketing opportunities and take the rally to the heart of the city for the spectators. Hopefully we will have one of the best Jordan rallies ever,' he added.
Competitors from 10 nations carried out on Tuesday the first of two permitted days of reconnaissance of the special stages, with the remaining stages scheduled for recce on Wednesday.
A name appearing on the entry list of a rally outside Lebanon for the first time is that of 21-year-old Alex Feghali, the son of 14-time Rally of Lebanon winner Roger. The youngster began his motor sporting career in the Lebanese Karting Championship and took part in the Spring Rally with a Peugeot 208 RC2. He teams up with the experienced co-driver Joseph Matar, himself a seven-time winner of the Rally of Lebanon.
The event is based at the Crowne Plaza Jordan Dead Sea Resort and gets under way with a ceremonial start at Abdali Boulevard in Amman from 7pm on Thursday. It will now be fought out over 21 special stages and 244.09 competitive kilometres in a route of 565.10km.
Support for the event comes from Abdali Boulevard, Mountain Dew, Hala and Bliss FM.