Ford drivers hunt for highs in Jordan’s Dead Sea lowlands
After experiencing the
The rally debuted in the WRC in 2008 when it became the first round hosted by an Arab country since 1976. Ford drivers Mikko Hirvonen and Jarmo Lehtinen won two years ago and the Finns, along with team-mates and fellow countrymen Jari-Matti Latvala and Miikka Anttila, have their sights set on another strong performance in the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan.
The low-level location of the gravel speed tests clustered near the
The rally takes advantage of new-for-2010 rules to run from Thursday to Saturday, to fit in with the Islamic weekend. The heaviest rain in
The desert roads are gravel but 29-year-old Hirvonen said the stages were unlike any other loose surface round. "The surface is hard and it feels like driving on asphalt. There will be loose gravel on the surface for the first pass through the stages, so the car will need a slightly soft set-up. But when the stages are repeated and the roads are clean the set-up will be harder, almost like we use on asphalt. There are no ditches there and in some bends it’s possible to make big cuts, so we can’t make the car too low. It’s a compromise set-up between gravel and asphalt," he said.
"It’s the most difficult rally of the year on which to make pace notes. It’s fast and high speed sections are punctuated by small crests. But suddenly the rhythm can change and you come over a crest to find a series of hairpin bends. There are no trees or bushes in the desert to use as sight lines so the notes must be pin-point accurate. We’ve analysed the reasons why we weren’t as competitive as we had hoped on the last round in
Latvala finished seventh in
"In 2008 the roads had a fine layer of sand lying on top of a hard, smooth base and it made them slippery during the first pass," said Latvala, who hopes to celebrate his 25th birthday in style on the final day of the rally. "The sand was swept away and in the second pass the roads were so hard and grippy that you could see black braking marks from the tyres on the surface – just like asphalt. It has rained hard there recently so I expect the surface might be a little softer and more loose this year.
"The roads are man-made in places and it means there is no natural flow to them so they are difficult to follow. They often turn immediately after a crest and I was nearly caught out on a few occasions two years ago. My pace notes were not accurate enough and I need to improve them on next week’s recce.
"The roads were built with rocks as a base and they are visible on the side of the track. In corners where it’s possible to take a cut, these stones are dragged out by the cars and it’s easy to damage the suspension by hitting a rock while trying to save a second or two," added Latvala.
* The team completed a successful pre-event test for both the Jordan Rally and next month’s Rally of Turkey in southern
* For the third consecutive rally, Ford is the most popular manufacturer in the entry with 10 of the 35 entry cars carrying the Blue Oval. Henning Solberg / Ilka Minor and Matthew Wilson / Scott Martin are nominated by the Stobart M-Sport Ford team in Focus RS WRCs, while Federico Villagra / Jorge Perez Companc will drive for the Munchi’s Ford squad in a similar car. Five Fiesta S2000 crews will start in the third round of the S-WRC support series.
There are few changes from
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ROUND 3 FIA WORLD RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP
1 – 3 April 2010
Thursday 1 April: Day 1 Jerash –
SS2 Wadi Shueib 1 8.65km 12.26
SS3 Mahes 1 20.44km 12.54
Serv A Dead Sea (30 mins) 14.32
SS5 Wadi Shueib 2 8.65km 15.50
SS6 Mahes 2 20.44km 16.13
Serv B Dead Sea (45 mins) 17.34
Friday 2 April: Day 2 Dead Sea –
Serv C Dead Sea (15 mins) 07.30
SS8 Suwayma 1 10.49km 08.11
SS9 Kafrain 1 17.20km 08.51
SS10 Jordan River 1 41.45km 09.49
Serv D Dead Sea (30 mins) 11.54
SS11 Suwayma 2 10.49km 12.50
SS12 Kafrain 2 17.20km 13.30
Serv E Dead Sea (45 mins) 15.46
Saturday 3 April: Day 3 Dead Sea –
Serv F Dead Sea (15 mins) 07.30
SS14 Yakrut 1 14.16km 08.20
SS15 Bahath 1 12.53km 08.50
SS16 Shuna 1 15.23km 09.33
SS17 Baptism Site 1 10.83km 10.16
Serv G Dead Sea (30 mins) 11.06
SS18 Yakrut 2 14.16km 12.11
SS19 Bahath 2 12.53km 12.41
SS20 Shuna 2 15.23km 13.24
SS21 Baptism Site 2 10.83km 14.07
Serv H Dead Sea (10 mins) 14.40
Rally total 339.48km