R allye fans must change this season. The FIA granted the organizers more freedom in setting the dates. As a result, the Jordan Rally will not run from Friday to Sunday as usual, but from Thursday to Saturday. Shakedown is already on Wednesday. According to the organizers, the change is in line with Islamic traditions.
The Jordan Rally leads through the deepest region on earth
Driving is in the north of the desert state. The 21 gravel stages between the capital Amman and the Dead Sea are relatively fluid, but not without their pitfalls due to the numerous crests. The dusty slopes lead through the deepest region on earth. 400 meters below sea level, the high oxygen content in the air gives the WRC turbo engines a few extra horsepower. After the mountain tests in Mexico, things are now going straight to the other extreme.
Anyone who thinks that there is no precipitation in the Arabian desert is wrong. In the past few weeks it suddenly rained as much in three days as it usually did in six months. The gravel paths turned into a single mud landscape in a very short time. The service park was also devastated. The Jordanian organizers even had to call in the army to repair the worst damage. The clean-up party wasn't quite finished. The overall length of the rally has been shortened a bit. A spectacular water crossing also fell victim.
Rally Jordan most difficult rally of the year
So it will be for the drivers not just in the unknown. Incidentally, test drives in Jordan were not allowed before the rally. The Citroen works team tested in Spain, the C4 juniors were in France. Ford was preparing in Sardinia for the gravel spectacle in the Middle East. However, one could not adapt to the special conditions of the barren landscape.
'From the record, it will be the most difficult rally of the whole year', explains Ford spearhead Mikko Hirvonen. 'The slopes are fast and the high-speed sections are always peppered with crests. The rhythm then suddenly changes into a series of hairpin bends. There are no trees or bushes in the desert that you can remember as clues. The Pacenoteshave to be exactly on point. '
Hirvonen has to catch up with Loeb
Most recently, Hirvonen lost a lot of ground in Mexico Title competitor Sebastien Loeb. After the promising opening win in Sweden, the Finn crossed the finish line in fourth place with no chance. 'We analyzed the reasons for the defeat and tried a few new settings during testing. I am confident that we will be fully competitive again in Jordan. 'Since there are still a few asphalt rallies waiting for Hirvonen in the last third of the season, the Finn should actually build a lead now.
That World Cup rival could help Loeb as the world championship leader is the first pilot to go out on the slopes and have to play the street sweeper. Petter Solberg could also benefit from his lower starting position, as in Mexico. 'Second place felt really good,' said Solberg the Viking starts with improved material: 'For the first time we are using our second car in Jordan - together with a new and more powerful engine.'
Kimi Raikkonen has to improve
Kimi Räikkönen is also back at the start to continue his rallying apprenticeship. Until now, the former Formula 1 star has mainly lacked consistency, which has done in both Sweden and Mexico 'Iceman' gross blunder. Raikkonen was clearly overshadowed by team-mate Sebastien Ogier. 'We'd love to fight for a podium again,' said the third from Mexico. 'But even a top five result would be very satisfactory.' Gaining more experience and making kilometers is the motto for the French Citroen Junior.