Both the Omani rally drivers excelled and impressed in the opening round as Rawahi began his title defence with the first-round victory while Zubair made a mark by finishing second on his debut. The 23 year old Rawahi had competed in the Oman International Rally in the higher R5 category and had finished second behind Nasser Saleh al Attiyah while Zubair despite being unable to finish the Oman rally had posted good timings during the few stages he took part.
In Amman, Rawahi, who was crowned the Jordan National Rally champion last year, began his title defence in Group N driving his Subaru Impreza STi N14 along with his co-driver Ata al Hmoud of Jordan. Rawahi and Hmoud were in terrific form as they dominated the early stages, winning two out of the scheduled five stages.
And with heavy rains forcing the organisers to cancel the remaining three stages, Rawahi was declared the winner. Zubair and his co-driver Emad Juma of Jordan, also driving Subaru Impreza STi N14, had recorded good times in the two stages to finish runner-up and secure his first podium finish outside Oman. The first two stages were held in Mt Nebo and the rally’s Main areas.
Zubair trailed Rawahi by a time of one minute and seven seconds after two stages. A total of 11 drivers took part in the opening round of the fiveleg rally. Rawahi claimed the 10km first stage in a time of 07m15s while Zubair finished in a time of 07m30s. The 17km main stage two saw Rawahi again win in a time of 12m57s while Zubair clocked 13m54s.
Speaking after the win, Rawahi said, “It is a nice way to start my title defence with a win in the opening round. It is unfortunate that all the stages could not be held due to rains but I believe that the organisers took safety of all into account before aborting the remaining stages. “I was confident of a good show following my participation in the Oman International Rally in Muscat last month. I used that to prepare for my title defence here in Jordan and I am now looking for the next round.”
For Zubair it was a podium finish on debut and the Omani was happy to have made it one-two for Oman in Amman. “It is my first podium finish outside Oman and I am delighted to have achieved it,” said Zubair, who had become the first Omani to take part in the FIA World Cross-Country and Baja rallies last year.