HAIL: Faris Al-Mashna and Saud Al-Taimi made a superb start to their challenge for honors in the 2016 Hail Nissan International Rally, Saudi Arabia’s flagship off-road motor sport event, which began on Sunday afternoon with a timed super special stage of 4.17km at Meshar.
The Saudi duo, driving a Nissan Patrol, finished the special in fourth place behind early leader and five-time winner Yazeed Al-Rajhi, who is partnered by the German navigator Timo Gottschalk in his customary Hummer.
Dubai’s former MERC driver Rashed Al-Kitbi made a first appearance at the Hail event and slotted into second place and T3 leader Yousef Al-Dheef was third.
Nissans dominated the leaderboard with nine cars inside the provisional top 15 at the end of the day. An impressive 33 cars began the event, despite a direct date clash with the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge.
Former Ibrahim Al-Muhanna snatched sixth place in his Nissan and Mohammed Al-Tuwaijri, Ahmed Abdullah Al-Suhail, Saleh Al-Abdulali and T2 leader Meshal Saud Al-Saeedi (Nissan) rounded off the top 10.
The rally is being held under the patronage of Prince Saud bin Abdul Mohsen bin Abdul Aziz, governor of Hail, president of the Supreme Commission for Hail Development and the head of the Supreme Commission of the Hail Rally.
Monday, competitors will tackle the first of three selective sections through the An-Nafud desert. The timed test begins at Umm Al-Qultan and runs for 269.55km to a finish in Q’na. A road section then returns entrants to the overnight halt in Hail.
Ha’il Nissan International Rally – positions after SSS (unofficial @ 17.00hrs):
1. Yazeed Al-Rajhi (SAU)/Timo Gottschalk (DEU) Hummer 2min 31.4sec
2. Rashid Al-Kitbi (ARE)/Ali Mirza (UAE) BMW X6 2min 41.6sec
3. Yousef Al-Dheef (SAU)/Ahmed Al-Dheef (SAU) Can Am T3 2min 41.7sec
4. Faris Al-Mashna (SAU)/Saud Al-Taimi (SAU) Nissan 2min 57.4sec
5. Salman Al-Shammeri (SAU)/Nawaf Al-Onazi (SAU) Toyota 2min 58.6sec
6. Ibrahim Al-Muhanna (SAU)/Osama Al-Sanad (SAU) Nissan 3min 00.4sec
7. Mohammed Al-Tuwaijri (SAU)/Muath Abatain (SAU) Toyota 3min 02.6sec
8. Ahmed Abdullah Al-Shehail (SAU)/Rasheed Mslet (SAU) Nissan 3min 03.2sec
9. Saleh Al-Abdulali (SAU)/Mohammed Al-Naeem (SAU) Nissan 3min 03.3sec
10. Meshal Saud Al-Saeedi (SAU)/Bander Al-Saeedi (SAU) Nissan 3min 03.5sec