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18.10.2008 – Dead Sea (Jordan) / Cairo –

Three members of the Abu Dhabi Junior Rally Team took part in the gruelling round of the FIA Middle East Rally Championship in Jordan on Saturday, with the talented young Majed Al-Shamsi and his Australian co-driver Dale Moscatt leading the way for the Abu Dhabi youngsters at the Dead Sea. After 11 of the event’s 18 timed special stages the pair were running as high as 12th overall, but a broken drive shaft sidelined the duo in the 12th special.

Abu Dhabi’s exciting junior rally programme has been put together by BP-Ford Abu Dhabi World Rally Team driver Sheikh Khalid Al-Qassimi with support from the Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority (ADTA), which is run under the chairmanship of His Excellency Sheikh Sultan Bin Tahnoon Al-Nahyan.
Abu Dhabi Junior Rally Team rookie Khalil Al Sheikh

Al-Shamsi was joined by Bader Al-Jabri and Khalil Al-Sheikh for the two days of competitive action in the Dead Sea area of the Jordan Valley, where officials at Jordan Motorsport laid on a challenging route consisting of 18 timed special stages. These technical trails, often starting above sea level and winding their way down steep passes and over bumpy terrain to locations as low as 400 metres below sea level, were an ideal test for the young Abu Dhabi drivers who are hoping to develop a career in top class rallying and follow the likes of Sheikh Khalid Al-Qassimi into the FIA World Rally Championship.

Their Ford Fiestas lack the power and traction of the main championship protagonists, but these cars were chosen by the Abu Dhabi management team so that the young drivers could learn the art of car control and personal management over some of the world’s most demanding special stages.
Abu Dhabi Junior Rally Team rookie Bader Al Jabri

“This event is another notch on the belt for our three young drivers,” said Sheikh Khalid Al-Qassimi. “We have arranged a development programme that takes in several smaller rallies and the more important ones, such as this event in Jordan, so that the Juniors can experience as many types of terrain as possible.”

Al-Shamsi and Al-Sheikh began the second day from 16th and 19th places in the overall classification after excellent performances over the opening nine special stages, although several leading cars rejoined the rally in front of them on the road and they were therefore running in 18th and 21st positions through the 10th stage.

Al-Jabri restarted at the rear of the field, after a sensor had failed on his Fiesta’s engine on Friday morning and the car had suffered overheating problems. Al-Jabri was permitted to continue by event officials to gain vital special stage experience.
Abu Dhabi Junior Rally Team rookie Majed Al Shamsi

Al-Shamsi set the 17th fastest time through the opening Suwayma stage, as the top of the leader board was turned upside down by the retirement of two of the top four. The Abu Dhabi driver found himself rising to 15th position and cruising towards a potentially superb finish in Jordan heading into the Mahes, Turki and Erak Elamir stages. Al-Sheikh lost 15 minutes in the 11th stage after leaving the road and slipped to 22nd overall, but Al-Jabri recovered well from Friday’s problems to set some useful times.

As the rate of attrition continued, a determined Al-Shamsi found himself up to 12th overall after 11 special stages, with Al-Sheikh and Al-Jabri in 21st and 22nd places. But Al-Shamsi sustained a broken driveshaft in the 12th stage and was unable to continue. Al-Sheikh took over the reigns for the Abu Dhabi Juniors and held 19th place, with Al-Jabri in 21st overall heading into the final loop of special stages.
Amjad Farrah in Jordan Rally action

Lebanon’s Roger Feghali began the final leg with a commanding 1m 47.1s overall advantage over Qatar’s Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah after winning eight of the opening day’s nine stages. The Lebanese had been a revelation over the twisty and demanding gravel trails, but a cruel 10th stage fuel pump failure for Feghali handed the reigns to Al-Attiyah and the Qatari eased his pace over the subsequent stages and remained on course for victory.

While the FIA Middle East Rally Championship contenders now switch their attentions to the next round of the series in Cyprus at the start of November, the Abu Dhabi Junior Rally Team will be heading off to England and Pickering in North Yorkshire for the Malton Forest Rally on Sunday, November 2nd.

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