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Al-Rajhi, McInnes, Al-Tuwaijri in control after Saudi Baja 2022-Hail first leg
HAIL: Yazeed Al-Rajhi, Alex McInnes and Haitham Al-Tuwaijri took control of their respective car, motorcycle and quad categories after the first stage of Saudi Baja 2022 – Hail which ended on Friday afternoon.
The competitors tackled a selective section of 229.52 kilometers to the west and north-west of Hail which was divided by a neutralization link into two parts of 101.52 km and 128.00 km.
Driving a Toyota Hilux Overdrive Racing, Saudi Arabian Al-Rajhi and his German co-driver Dirk von Zitzewitz clocked a time of 2 hours, 36 minutes, 19 seconds, to edge rivals Miroslav Zapletal by 9 minutes, 48 seconds. (Ford F-150 Evo) and Marek Sykora in the duel for the drivers’ title in both the FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Bajas and the Saudi Toyota Rally Championship.
“It was a great stage and I really enjoyed it. There were a lot of technical places. We had a great time and Dirk did a great job. The weather was different and not too hot today. No rain but the ground is hard after yesterday’s rain,” Al-Rajhi said.
Fernando Alvarez cemented his hold on the FIA World Cup T3 championship by setting the third-fastest time, and he held a similar position in the standings in his Can-Am Maverick with French co-driver Xavier Panseri. The Spaniard’s closest rival in T3 was seventh-placed Hamed Al-Harbi, who is aiming for glory in the FIA Middle East Cup.
Alvarez started the stage from seventh place on the road. “We did very well and we are happy with our third place. The car was perfect. We had no problems and stayed on track the whole time. We will continue to push until the end because I want to be on the overall podium with the T1s. Today was supposed to rain but we didn’t get any rain.
Al-Harbi added: “The stage was very nice but it was very cold in the morning. It was full speed and careful. Only Yazeed passed me on stage today.
Eduard Pons topped the times in the FIA T4 section and edged Kees Koolen by 29 seconds. Kuwait championship leader Meshari Al-Thefiri, suffering significant delays due to electrical problems, gave Cristiano de Sousa Batista and Koolen the lead in the three-way fight for the FIA title.
Al-Thefiri said: “We had changed the engine, but we still suffered from an electrical problem in the car which forced the engine to stop several times. We managed to restart and pass De Sousa but the problem got worse after the neutral section.
Saudi Arabian Khalid Al-Feraihi finished the day fourth overall and second in T1 with French sailor Sébastien Delaunay. “We had a wonderful day. We had minor issues, as we expect in such stages, but we finished safely.
Qatari Mohammed Al-Attiyah teamed up with Emirati co-driver Ali Mirza, but the South Racing Can-Am duo were forced to retire after an accident. Mirza said: “Unfortunately after 10 km we had an accident and broke the car. Mohammed and I are doing well and hopefully we have enough parts to continue tomorrow.
Al-Attiyah added: “We tried to pass the driver (Camelia Liparoti) in front going down a hill, but we landed on the front tires and rolled over.”
Dania Akeel was the highest ranked female driver in 11th overall and fourth in T3. The Saudi said: “I love Hail Baja, the crowds gathering to watch the scene. It was a good stage with its own challenges. We hope to finish in a good position for the next round in Dubai.
Alex McInnes was class in the motorcycle peloton on his Husqvarna FE 450. The Briton won the stage 93 seconds ahead of Makis Rees-Stavros and headed into the night stop at Hail with a lead of 1:43.0. Saudi Anass Al-Reheyani, Emirati Mohammed Al-Balooshi and Qatar-based Australian Martin Chalmers complete the top five.
Haitham Al-Tuwaijri got the better of rival Abdulmajeed Al-Khulaifi to lead the quad class by 8:43.0 on his Yamaha Raptor 700. The two Saudi riders were the class of the peloton that saw Hani Al-Noumesi and Abdulaziz Ahli all both incur massive time penalties after technical issues.
Ahmed Al-Shammeri edged Motab Al-Shammeri by 3:30.0 in the Saudi National Baja for cars and Yasir Al-Khuraif was the best rider in the national section for motorcycles.
The seventh round of the FIA Off-Road Bajas World Cup and the FIM Bajas World Cup, the third round of the FIA Off-Road Bajas Middle East Cup and the third round of the Saudi Arabian Championship Toyota rallies, is organized by the Saudi Automobile and Motorcycle Federation, in collaboration with the Ministry of Sports and in partnership with Abdul Latif Jameel Motors.
Saudi Baja 2022-Hail Posts (Unofficial):
1. Yazeed Al-Rajhi (Saudi Arabia)/Dirk von Zitzewitz (Germany) Toyota Hilux Overdrive: 2:39:28
2. Miroslav Zapletal (Czech Republic)/Marek Sykora (Slovakia) Ford F150 Evo: 2:49:16
3. Fernando Alvarez (Spain)/Xavier Panseri (France) Can-Am Maverick X3 (T3): 2:55:07
4. Khaled Al-Feraihi (Saudi Arabia)/Sébastien Delaunay (France) Nissan Patrol: 3:00:51
5. Eduard Pons (Spain)/Monica Plaza Vasquez (Spain) Can-Am Maverick XRS Turbo (T4): 3:01:28
6. Kees Koolen (Netherlands)/Paolo Ceci (Italy) Can-Am Maverick XRS Turbo (T4): 3:01:57
7. Hamed Al-Harbi (Saudi Arabia)/Dmytro Tsyro (Ukraine) Can-Am Maverick X3 (T3): 3:03:26
8. Aliyyah Koloc (UAE)/Stephane Duple (France) Buggyra Can-Am DV21 (T3): 3:05:21
9. Cristiano Batista (Brazil)/Fausto Mota (Portugal) Can-Am Maverick XRS Turbo RR (T4): 3:05:22
10. Egidijus Valeisa (Lithuania)/ Mindaugas Varza (Lithuania) Can-Am Maverick XRS Turbo: 3:08:05
11. Dania Akeel (Saudi Arabia)/Sergio Lafuente (Uruguay) Can-Am Maverick X3 (T3): 3:09:11
12. Mashael Al-Obaidan (Saudi Arabia)/Wouter Rosegaar (Netherlands) Can-Am Maverick X3 (T3): 3:10:16
T1 unless otherwise specified
1. Alex McInnes (Great Britain) Husqvarna FE 450: 3:07:41
2. Makis Rees-Stavros (Great Britain) KTM EXC F 450: 3:09:24
3. Anass Al-Reheyani (Saudi Arabia) KTM EXC F 450: 3:18:23
4. Mohammed Al-Balooshi (UAE) TM 450: 3:20:51
5. Martin Chalmers (Qatar) Honda CRF 450: 3:21:44
6. Abdullah Al-Shatti (Kuwait) Kawasaki KC 450: 3:25:53
7. Mishal Al-Ghuneim (Saudi Arabia) Husqvarna 450 Rally: 3:31:06
8. Ahmed Al-Jaber (Saudi Arabia) KTM 450 Rally: 3:32:03
9. Brett Hunt (Great Britain) Husqvarna FE 450: 3:33:31
10. Abdullah Abu Aishah (Jordan) KTM 450 Factory Rally: 3:34:45
11. Abdulhalim Al-Mogheera (Saudi Arabia) KTM EXC 450: 3:35:19
12. Salman Mohamed Farhan (Bahrain) Husqvarna FE 450: 3:45:23
1. Haitham Al-Tuwaijri (Saudi Arabia) Yamaha Raptor 700: 3:32:51
2. Abdulmajeed Al-Khulaifi (Saudi Arabia) Yamaha Raptor 700: 3:41:34
3. Hani Al-Noumesi (Saudi Arabia) Yamaha Raptor 700: 27:04:11
4. Abdulaziz Ahli (Saudi Arabia) Yamaha YFZ 450R: 28:48:41