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World Top-class Drivers Enter into History-making Jordan Rally
    2008-04-23 23:02:03     Xinhua
The 2008 Jordan Rally gets underway with a ceremonial start at the Dead Sea on Thursday afternoon and marks the start of the first FIA World Rally Championship event to be held in the Arab world in the modern era.

Top seed is the reigning FIA World Rally Champion and current series leader Sebastien Loeb in the first of the Citroen Total World Rally Team's C4s. The Frenchman is chasing an unprecedented 40th WRC win and arrives in Amman five points clear of Finland's Mikko Hirvonen in the championship standings, courtesy of his recent win in Argentina.

The event marks Loeb's first ever appearance on a rally in the Middle East, but he remains one of the most competitive of the gravel surface drivers and will be confident that he can match and beat Hirvonen and the Finn's Ford team mate Jari-Matti Latvala, who is also making his first appearance in Jordan in a Ford Focus RS.

After Thursday afternoon's ceremonial start, the entire event will be centred in the area around the Dead Sea - the lowest point on earth at 427 metres below sea level - and the timetable will be divided into three legs of special stages on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

The gravel sections will run through historical and biblical sites in the Jordan Valley and close to the Baptism site for Jesus and Mount Nebo, where Moses is alleged to have seen the Promised Land.

Days one and two will consist of two identical loops of four stages, repeated twice, with the opening leg including runs through the Suwayma, Mahes, Mount Nebo and Ma'in specials, a service break at the Dead Sea splitting the action from 11.46hrs. There will be 115.18 competitive kilometres on Friday.

Saturday's Turki, Erak Elamir, Shuna and Baptism site specials will also be repeated, but the final leg on Sunday features two runs through the Kafrain, Wadi Shuaib and Jordan River stages, the latter sure to provide a sting in the tail.

The final special passes close to the border with Israel and runs for 41.45 kilometers. In a total route of 983.44 kilometers, 359.26 kilometers will be competitive.
 
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