The Jordan Rally was accompanied by heavy rain
The team could not compete for first place in the competition due to a wheel defect
The final stage was distinguished by a successful sprint
Second place at the finish line was in line with the team's expectations
The Racing 21 team crew consisting of Vojtěch Štajf and Markéta Skácelová competing in the ŠKODA Fabia R5 car successfully commenced this year's foreign participation in the FIA Middle East Rally Championship (MERC) series. They came second overall in the Jordan Rally, the opening event of this championship, and so gain valuable points.
The Jordan Rally originally had 15 speed trials spread out over three days on the programme for this weekend. Unfortunately Thursday's very heavy rains damaged some parts of the speed trial routes and really complicated the situation for the organisers. In the end the organisers were forced to cut one speed trial from the original competition schedule, and this reduced the overall length of the timed sections.
The Štajf-Skácelová crew started the competition very well in the Fabia R5, when after Thursday's only speed trial they lost by just 1.4 seconds to the Jordan Rally favourite, Nasir al-Attija from Qatar, who was also competing with an R5 car, But on the second day the time interval between the two drivers gradually started to grow as the Qatar racing driver started to draw on his knowledge of the environment of the Jordan Rally, which he had already won eleven times, whereas for the Czech driver of the Racing 21 team it was only his second time competing on gravel in an R5 spec car.
And the chances of another duel for first place in the event reduced significantly on Friday during the fourth time trial after a defect of the front left wheel of Vojtěch Štajf's car. The subsequent wheel change on the route cost the crew not only valuable time, but it also meant that they dropped to third place behind the Kuwait-Qatar crew of Al-Thefiri – Al-Kuwari. "It was hard luck, unfortunately we hit a big rock on my side of the car when I just missed a rocky outcrop. Maybe we could have missed it, but at the speed we were going it simply wasn't possible. But of course that's not the end of the competition, and we will struggle on," said the driver Vojtěch Štajf, reacting to the critical moment.
The Štajf-Skácelová crew started Saturday's final stage with a significant deficit of almost 2 minutes and 21 seconds behind the crew ahead of them in second place. But from the very first kilometres of the morning speed trials Vojtěch Štajf set a courageous blistering pace, because he didn't intend to accept third place. With each speed trial he successfully reduced the lead of the Kuwaiti Al-Thefiri. Just two speed trials before the end of the competition, Štajf managed to regain the second place. He put in a great performance at the end, when the difference on the last timed section between him and the overall winner of the competition, the Qatari Nasir al-Attija, was just 0.6 of a second! So second place overall means that the Czech crew achieved their original goals for participation in the MERC series.
"I'm really pleased with the result. After driving on difficult terrain on a route that had been impacted by torrential rain, and with a subsequent wheel defect in the second stage, Markéta and I were not in a good situation. And what's more the notes we had drawn up weren't completely right, and this caused minor mistakes and even one quite serious one, but fortunately with a happy ending. I had just one goal: to systematically and single-mindedly reduce Al-Thefiri's lead and in the end get ahead of him. In the end we achieved this. Nasir clearly showed that this surface suits him, and he is very familiar with it here, so we congratulate the clear winners. But we will also be leaving this competition with a good feeling," said Vojtěch Štajf after his first ever competition in Jordan.
The navigator Markéta Skácelová also summed up the competition in brief. "This competition was an exceptional experience. Probably the thing I will remember the most was the massive high-speed jump that we didn't expect, and my back suffered from the impact a little. Fortunately Vojta and I pulled ourselves together quickly, and we could continue in the sprint. I am really pleased with second place."
The next competition in the MERC series is the Rally of Cyprus in June.
The crew will continue participation in the domestic championship in the Rally Český Krumlov on the dates 18.-19. May.
PR manager, RACING 21
Mobile: +420 734 313 315
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