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Jordanian duo aim to maintain MERC2 title challenges

By JT - May 17,2022 - Last updated at May 17,2022

Lebanon’s Alex Feghali in action at the 2021 MERC2 in Jordan (Photo courtesy of the Jordan Rally Media Service)

AMMAN — Jordanian rally drivers, Issa Abu Jamous and Ihab Al Shorafa, are relishing the challenge of maintaining superb starts to their challenge for MERC2 honours in this year’s FIA Middle East Rally Championship (MERC), according to the Jordan Rally Media Service.

Abu Jamous will line up at the start of this weekend’s Jordan Rally currently enjoying a 26-point advantage in the FIA MERC2 Championship for Group NR4 machines, such as the latest derivatives of the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution and Subaru Impreza. 

 “My goal is to win the title,” said the Jordanian. “I returned to the world of rallying after a 12-year hiatus because of work commitments. I won the first national rally, which was a good preparation for me and my co-driver Imad Juma. I know it will be difficult competition at the Jordan Rally between Jordanian and other Arab competitors. But I am looking forward to the competition, maintaining the lead and also boosting my points in the main Middle East Championship. 

“The Jordan Rally is characterised by its difficulty and diversity of terrain and the participation of 26 local, Arab and international competitors will increase the strength of the competition. It’s also great to see the participation of young competitors in the rally, such as Shaker Juwaihan, Ameer Nassif and Ahmed Jankhut. My children will also have an influential role in motorsport very soon.”

Local rival Ihab Al Shorafa is his closest challenger after the first three rounds of the series in Oman, Qatar and Kuwait. Shorafa has 63 points and is 23 clear of his two nearest rivals. 

One of those is Meshari Al Thefiri, the defending FIA MERC2 champion, who impressed many with his turn of speed in a Rally2 Škoda Fabia in Kuwait back in March. Unfortunately, mechanical issues cost the Kuwaiti a potentially sensational result and he returns to the MERC2 section in Jordan to drive his Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X.

Thefiri said: “I have come here to win my category and to be on the podium. I am still waiting to hear from Škoda what the problem was in Kuwait when I was leading after day one. As soon as I turned on the engine on day two, I knew there was a problem and we didn’t finish. This was very frustrating. We have to learn from this. But, if I have no problems with the car. I believe I can win my group here.”

The series-leading trio’s main opposition could some from Lebanon’s Alex Feghali, the son of record breaking 15-time Rally of Lebanon winner Roger Feghali. The youngster teamed up with Georges Deaibess to finish third overall and second in MERC2 in Jordan last May. He finished the rally around two minutes behind Thefiri.

The group will be hotly contested as always, with Kuwait’s joint third-placed Mohammed Al Thefiri making another appearance and Oman’s Zakariya Al Aamri hoping to climb higher than his current fifth in the points’ standings. 

Other drivers on the entry include Jordanian drivers Shadi Shaban, Salameh Al Ghammez and Fadi Dahshan, all at the wheel of Mitsubishis, and Yousef Al Asmar in a Subaru Impreza.

On Wednesday, competitors complete their reconnaissance of the Bahath, Suwayma and Ma’in gravel special stages that they will face over the weekend. Administration checks will then take place at rally headquarters during the late afternoon.

Support for this year’s event comes from Zain Jordan, Mountain Dew, the Guarantee Travel Group, Hala and Bliss FM. 

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