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GP Week : Issue 75
WRC INSIGHT >> Skoda, although he had earlier won the category as a one-off 'Guest' driver on the Swedish. Since the Swedish, PG turned co-driver for a day. Swedish touring car driver Richard Goransson wanted to try his hand at rallying -- in PG's own Mitsubishi car! The organisers have faced severe weather problems in the last few weeks -- six months' rain fell within 36 hours causing considerable damage to the route scheduled to be used on the event. The Jordanian army has been engaged in rebuilding the damaged roads and the organisers are optimistic that the changes to the planned route will be minimal. The nature of the territory in which many of the stages are held below sea level has compounded the issue -- water keeps flowing downhill from the hills! The changes mean that the stage distance is slightly reduced but the total road section distances will be increased, and by a strange irony, the one famous water splash on the event, on a stage close to Rally HQ, has had to be abandoned. The low altitude makes quite a change after Mexico when the roads on the stages were the highest in the series! MERC drivers due to compete in Jordan are headed by Al Attiyah and Khalid Al Qassimi. Three drivers are planning to contest both divisions of the event, Al Attiyah (Skoda), Yazeed Al Rahji (Kronos Peugeot) and Mazen Tastash (Mitsubishi). The big uncertainty is where in the running order the drivers who are contesting the WRC as well as the MERC event will be. How far apart time-wise will rival drivers be running? Already there is to be a 15- minute gap between the WRC and the MERC runners, for safety reasons. The MERC series welcomes back Nada Zaidan from Qatar, who had entered several rounds of the MERC in 2004 and 2005 before representing her country at Archery. She returned to the sport in the Qatar Rally 2010 with her co-driver Nadia Shnoudeh who is Jordanian. The duality of championship status has raised some curious situations, not the least the fact that the championships run to different rules, especially regarding tyres and conflicting rules such as running order. In the end there are 30 crews on the MERC entry list and 34 remaining crews on the WRC list, a total of 64 crews, Not so bad! Mikko Hirvonen won in 2008, but Sebastien Loeb (above) will be looking to change that ... 45