Qatar M-Sport’s Nasser Al-Attiyah and co-driver Giovanni Bernacchini continued their dominant campaign in the FIA Middle East Rally Championship (MERC) last weekend as they piloted their Ford Fiesta RRC to a convincing victory at the 2013 Jordan Rally.
Nestled in the confines of the region’s world-famous Dead Sea resort, this year’s Jordan Rally was billed as one of the most challenging to date, but that was not to faze the eight-time MERC champion. Despite running first on the road, the Qatari’s Fiesta RRC posted the fastest time on 11 of the event’s 16 stages.
In fact M-Sport’s regional rally car secured all 16 stage victories. Lebanese driver Roger Feghali and co-driver Joseph Matar claimed the fastest time on the remaining five speed tests to take second place overall – securing a one-two finish for M-Sport’s Fiestas.
Leading the event from start to finish, Al-Attiyah’s victory marked his seventh in Jordan and 48th in the regional series. Last weekend’s victory – secured by a margin of almost two minutes – was also the Qatari’s third successive win in the Middle Eastern series. Indeed Al-Attiyah has taken maximum points from all three rounds so far this season and is well on his way to securing a record-breaking ninth MERC title.
Nasser Al-Attiyah said:
“I am really very happy to win this event. This was never going to be an easy rally and, as predicted, it was the toughest event in the championship. But the team did a fantastic job and we were able to lead from the first stage until the last – a great result for Qatar and for M-Sport.
“Now I have three wins from three rallies and 75 points. The target at the start of the year was to take the championship, but now I would like to win every rally this season – the grand slam!”
Roger Feghali said:
“Of course it would have been better to win the rally after such a fantastic performance, but it was great to have the speed to compete with Nasser [Al-Attiyah] and Khalid [Al-Qassimi] who both have so much experience.
“It was a really difficult event for us. Having been away from competition for the past six months, I found it hard to be on the pace straight away. On Day 2 we were able to settle into our usual pace and were setting the fastest time on lots of stages. Thanks to that, we climbed to second place and held it to the end of the rally – I was very happy with that performance.”
M-Sport Managing Director, Malcolm Wilson OBE, said:
“Once again the [Ford] Fiesta RRC has proven to be the most competitive car in the [FIA] Middle East Rally Championship. Taking all 16 stage victories is a great achievement for M-Sport and, once again, Nasser [Al-Attiyah] and Giovanni [Bernacchini] have shown that they are the ones to beat.
“We also saw some fantastic performances from the other Fiesta drivers with 100 per cent reliability from all six competitors. To have five M-Sport cars in the top-seven is great to see and Roger [Feghali] in particular did a brilliant job to secure a one-two finish for the Fiesta.”