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MERC: Al-Attiyah continues to reign in the Middle East
13 May 2013
Qatar M-Sport's Nasser Al-Attiyah continued to dominate the FIA Middle East Rally Championship (MERC) after clinching his third successive win at the weekend in the 2013 Jordan Rally.
It's Al-Attiyah's seventh victory in Jordan and 48th in the regional series, and he won by almost two minutes after leading from start to finish with the help of his co-driver Giovanni Bernacchini.
"I am really very happy to win this event," beamed Al-Attiyah. "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."
Al-Attiyah and Bernacchini set the fastest time in 11 of the event stages, with the team's Lebanese driver Roger Feghali and co-driver Joseph Matar locking up the other five on their way to second place in the rally.
Lauding the Ford Fiesta RRC as "the most competitive car" in the series, M-Sport Managing Director, Malcolm Wilson OBE hailed "a great achievement" for the team in taking all 16 stage victories. "Once again, Nasser and Giovanni have shown that they are the ones to beat," he said.
"To have five M-Sport cars in the top-seven is great to see and Roger in particular did a brilliant job to secure a one-two finish for the Fiesta," Wilson said, adding that there had been total reliability among the six Ford Fiestas at work in the confines of the region's world-famous Dead Sea resort.
With his victory this weekend, 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.
"I have three wins from three rallies and 75 points," said the driver. "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!”
Second-place man Feghali would have dearly loved to have taken the Jordan victory, but in the end could only congratulate his stable mate's achievement this weekend.
“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 and Khalid who both have so much experience," he said.
“It was a really difficult event for us," he added. "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," he continued. "Thanks to that, we climbed to second place and held it to the end of the rally. I was very happy with that performance!”