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Jordan's Maruf Abu Samra and his co-driver Malek Hariri drive past Qatar’s Khaled al-Suwaidi and his Italian co-driver Nicola Arena at the Jordan Rally. AFP Photo
Jordan's Maruf Abu Samra and his co-driver Malek Hariri drive past Qatar’s Khaled al-Suwaidi and his Italian co-driver Nicola Arena at the Jordan Rally. AFP Photo

Abu Dhabi Racing pair survive cliff scares at Rally Jordan

Majed Al Shamsi escaped with a hurt shoulder after crashing off a cliff, while Mohammed Al Sahlawi narrowly escaped going over the edge himself.

Two of Abu Dhabi Racing's drivers fell foul of the tough terrain on the opening day of Rally Jordan, with one falling 20 feet off a cliff while another was left dangling over the edge.

While Mohammed Al Sahlawi and his co-driver Allan Harrymangot away with their close encounter as their Citroen DS3 R3 2WD car was pulled away from the edge by spectators and marshals, Majed Al Shamsi and his co-driver John Higgins were not as fortunate.

They slid off at the same point as Al Sahlawi, falling 20 feet and landing on its roof. Al Shamsi was taken to a clinic with his shoulder in a sling for a precautionary check-up, but his Irish co-driver John Higgins said: "We're both fine."

Higgins added: "We came to a loose sharp left with a big drop, and the back wheels went over the edge. The car just fell back over the edge and landed upside down."

Al Sahlawi, whose incident had happened earlier in the day, recalled of his scare: "It was a blind corner and I was worried about it so I was slowing down.

"But everyone had been cutting from the left and there weren't any lines to follow. I stopped when I saw the water but the front right wheel went over the edge and we got stuck.

" We just waited for someone to pull us back. We were scared we might fall off."

Al Sahlawi will take advantage of the super rally regulation to return on today's second leg, but Al Shamsi will not restart because of the damage to the car.

Meanwhile, fellow Abu Dhabi Racing driver Sheikh Khalid Al Qassimi remains upbeat on his chances of success at the front going into the second leg.

The Emirati had finished second in the opening two rounds of the Middle East Rally Championship (Merc) and had been looking to try to close the 14-point gap to championship leader Nasser Al Attiyah.

The Abu Dhabi Citroen Total World Rally Team driver had been cautious beforehand on his prospects as he felt he and the team had not yet cracked the set-up for racing on the terrain.

That proved to be the reality as he was unable to keep up with his Qatari rival's pace as Al Attiyah finished the day's eight stages 1 min 11.2 secs ahead of him, with only 8.8 seconds keeping him ahead of Lebanese driver Roger Feghali.

Of his day, Sheikh Khalid said: "On the second stage we were completely over-shooting the corners and had to back off because there was so much loose gravel. Stage three was good but on the next stage the tyres became really slick because of all the wear and the heat, and the car was all over the place. But we're fine, and still in the battle."

It was a good day for Bader Al Jabri, who ended the day in ninth place overall in his Subaru N15, and second position in the Group N production class, while Mohammed Al Mutawaa heads the two-wheel category.

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