Saudi Arabian driver Essa Al-Dossari and his Emirati navigator Ali Hassan Obaid won the opening three-kilometre super special stage at the start of the new Jordan Baja on a twisty gravel stage adjacent to the Desert Highway into Aqaba City on Thursday afternoon.
The ED Racing Nissan Navara crew set a time of 3min 18.2sec and that was sufficient to beat Motab and Abdullah Al-Shammeri by 16.2 seconds and give the Saudi winner of this year’s Ha’il Rally first option on a starting position for the first of the desert selective sections through Wadi Rum on Friday morning.
“It was a litle tricky and twisty but we did good. We set up the car for the track and it was fine. Full throttle, maximum attack for the next two days. I am looking to put a gap tomorrow and then have a gap for the second day.”
Twenty cars and five motorcycles were flagged away from the ceremonial start at the Ayla real estate development close to the Red Sea by HRH Prince Feisal Al-Hussein, Chairman of Jordan Motorsport. It marked the start of Jordan’s first cross-country rally since 1990.
The ceremonial start followed a pre-event press conference held on the start podium with Essa Al-Dossari, Ibrahim Al-Muhanna, Salameh Al-Gammaz, Malek Hariri, Ala Al-Hmoud and Salem Al-Dhafeeri in attendance.
Pre-start entertainment was supplied by the Aqaba Folklore Group and there were several spectacular low-altitude passes by a Hawker Hunter and a Viper Jet.
Saudi Arabia’s Redha Al-Shammeri snatched an early advantage in the T2 category for series production cross-country vehicles in his Nissan Patrol. Fellow countryman Muneef Al-Salmani was second quickest and the leading Jordanian crew of Salameh Al-Gammaz and Yousef Juma safely negotiated the opening super special in their Toyota Prado.
The Egyptian female duo of Yara Shalaby and Nouran Ashry were forced to stop the Gazelle Rally Team Nissan Pathfinder in the stage after they clouted a rock, broke a drive shaft or damaged the transmission and the car was moved to the side of the track by event marshals.
“It’s just hard luck, but that is rallying,” reflected the disappointed Egyptian. “We are hoping to fix the problem tonight and see where we are tomorrow.”
Saudi Arabia’s Ahmed Al-Shammeri also failed to complete the stage after damaging a front wheel hub on his Nissan Patrol.
Ata Al-Hmoud made history by being the first competitor to tackle a stage of the Jordan Baja and he posted a time of 3min 28.7sec. But first blood in the motorcycle category went to Hamzeh Zawahreh on his Kawasaki KX450 with a stage-winning time of 3min 13.3sec.
“I am really happy,” said Al-Hmoud. “It is the first time in Jordan for the bikes at an international level. I used to be a co-driver but I decided to move to the bikes to keep the adrenaline rush. The other four riders don’t have experience of navigation, so I expect to have the advantage.”
Rookie Bader Abdul Jawad fell off his Kawasaki on several occasions on the stage and carded a time of 6min 05.1sec to reach the finish in fifth place.
Jordanian driver Ibrahim Mhawish was unable to start the event after his Jeep Wrangler failed pre-event scrutineering with a roll cage issue. Palestinian driver Tawfiq Hraiz was a late addition to the field in a Nissan Patrol.
Two selective sections are on the agenda for Friday, as the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan returns to cross-country rallying for the first time since 1990
Competitors will tackle a longer opening section of 121.21km that starts and finishes in Salhiyah - 38.77km from Parc Ferme - in the morning before returning to the service park. A second shorter section of 64.93km runs in the afternoon and starts and finishes in Disi, a short distance to the north of Aqaba.
2018 Jordan Baja – positions after SSS (unofficial @18.15hrs):
1. Essa Al-Dossari (SAU)/Ali Hassan Obaid (UAE) Nissan Navara 3min 18.2sec
2. Motab Al-Shammeri (SAU)/Abdullah Al-Shammeri (SAU) Nissan Patrol 3min 34.4sec
3. Redha Al-Shammeri (SAU)/Nasser Al-Shammeri (SAU) Nissan Patrol 3min 38.4sec
4. Osama El-Houashla (PLE)/Yousef Ilawena (PLE) Jeep Wrangler 3min 39.3sec
5. Muneef Al-Salmani (SAU)/Jouaan Al-Shammeri (SAU) Nissan Patrol 3min 40.0sec
6. Ibrahim Al-Muhanna (SAU)/Osama Al-Sanad (SAU) Nissan Patrol 3min 41.7sec
7. Khalid Al-Hamzani (SAU)/Fahed Al-Omar (SAU) Nissan Patrol 3min 44.6sec
8. Fares Al-Moshana (SAU)/Saud Al-Tamimi (SAU) Nissan Patrol 3min 49.0sec
9. Fahad Al-Abdallatif (SAU)/Ziyad Al-Harbi (SAU) Nissan Patrol 3min 50.0sec
10. Raed Al-Anzi (SAU)/Majed Al-Shammeri (SAU) Nissan Patrol 3min 56.4sec
11. Ihab Al-Asibi (PLE)/Akram Abu Zkika (PLE) Jeep Wrangler 3min 56.9sec
12. Ahmad Al-Malki (SAU)/Omar Al-Lahim (SAU) Isuzu D-Max 4min 02.5sec
13. Salameh Al-Gammaz (JOR)/Yousef Juma (JOR) Toyota Prado 4min 03.1sec
14. Mahmoud Al-Maabda (PLE)/Adrian Tiaha (PLE) Jeep Wrangler 4min 03.4sec
15. Salem Al-Dhafeeri (KUW)/Ali Mirza (UAE) Nissan Patrol 4min 11.1sec
16. Tawfiq Hraiz (PLE)/Amjad Al-Nashat (JOR) Nissan Patrol 4min 35.4sec
17. Malek Al-Hariri (JOR)/Ziad Masannat (JOR) MN 1600 (T3) 4min 56.3se
18. Saleh Al-Saif (SAU)/Abdulsalem Al-Shameri (SAU) Can-Am X3 (T3) 9min 00.0sec
Ahmed Al-Shammeri (SAU)/Eid Al-Shammeri (SAU) Nissan Patrol DNF
Yara Shalaby (EGY)/Nouran Ashry (EGY) Nissan Pathfinder DNF
1. Hamzeh Zawahreh (JOR) Kawasaki KX450 3min 13.3sec
2. Ata Al-Hmoud (JOR) Beta 390 3min 28.7sec
3. Khaldoon Halabi (JOR) Honda CRF 450 X 4min 15.9sec
4. Saif Al-Zyoud (JOR) Yamaha WR450 4min 31.3sec
5. Bader Abdel Jawad (JOR) Kawasaki KLR 650 6min 05.1sec
Follow the Jordan Baja live:
Source Jordan Baja's official press release