Nasser Saleh Al Attiyah remains in the hunt to win an eighth Middle East Rally Championship after finishing the opening leg of the Jordan Rally at the front of the field on Friday.
Despite running first on the road and being forced to sweep loose gravel off the track surfaces, the Qatari driver won four of the day's eight special stages to hold an 18.8 second advantage over the Lebanese driver Roger Feghali going into Saturday's final day.
"It has been unbelievable sweeping the road and running first through the stages," said Al Attiyah, who is driving a brand new Ford Fiesta in the event. "I think maybe one second a kilometre difference. It was so slippery out there. It was not easy to push hard and stay very competitive."
Feghali won two stages in his Motortune Ford Fiesta and starts today 17.4 seconds in front of the third-placed Saudi driver Yazeed Al-Rajhi, who was fastest on the first and third stages.
The UAE's Sheikh Khalid Al Qassimi made a low-key return to the sport after a 12-month absence and was a solid fourth overall, ahead of the championship leader Abdulaziz Al Kuwari, who is fifth and three minutes, 54.7 seconds adrift of Al Attiyah.
Going into the event Al Attiyah was 22 points behind Al Kuwari and at present would cut that deficit to seven if they finish in the same places today.
Qatar's Misfer Al Marri, who had started the event in second place in the championship, lost his chances of taking outright victory when he had a flat tyre on the third stage and starts today down in ninth place - more than 16 minutes off the pace.
Saturday's final leg of the event sees the drivers tackle another eight stages of tough terrain, covering 132.4km in distance.
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