Next Round 3: WRC Jordan April 1-3, 2010
Official Website: jordanrally.com/wrc_2010/
Less than a month after conquering the high-altitude stages of Mexico, the FIA World Rally Championship regulars return to action on the Jordan Rally for round three of the 13-event series.
Although the Middle East rally is described as a gravel event, the stages could not be more contrasting to those experienced in Mexico at the start of March.
While most of the tests in Mexico were held 2000 metres above sea level, the majority of the stages in Jordan, although undulating, are actually beneath the level of the sea. And because a large chunk of the Jordan Rally route is held on purpose-built stages blasted into the desert rock, the hard road surface is more akin to a sharp marble edge, unlike the gravel and boulder-strewn tracks found on most loose-surface events on the WRC calendar.
As well as the punishing stage surface, crews will have to compete in ambient temperatures approaching 30 degrees centigrade, which will put a huge onus on driver fitness and car reliability. The high temperatures will also compromise outright engine performance and require drivers to conserve their tyres, particularly when stages are repeated, due to the likelihood of increased wear as they pass over the demanding terrain.
Based 420 metres below sea level by the banks of the Dead Sea, the Jordan Rally joined the WRC for the first time in 2008 after running successfully as a candidate rally for the previous two years. The event enjoys enthusiastic support from the Jordanian royal family, led by HRH Prince Feisal, who was a driving force behind the event becoming a round of the WRC.