Yazeed Al-Rajhi leads after super special stage of Rally Qassim 2019

Yazeed Al-Rajhi at the start of the Rally Qassim 2019 on Thursday. Al-Rajhi leads the event after the super special stage. (Photo/Supplied)
Updated 18 October 2019

Yazeed Al-Rajhi leads after super special stage of Rally Qassim 2019

  • The Saudi ace in an Overdrive Racing Toyota Hilux leads Yasir Seaidan by 8.5 seconds

BURAIDAH: Saudi Arabia’s Yazeed Al-Rajhi and Ulster co-driver Michael Orr held an advantage of 8.5 seconds after the opening timed 3.55km super special stage of Rally Qassim 2019, the second round of the Saudi Toyota Desert Rally Championship, on Thursday afternoon.

Organized by the Saudi Automobile and Motorcycle Federation (SAMF), 56 cars, one truck, 13 motorcycles and seven quads were eventually flagged away from the start in Buraidah by  Prince Khalid bin Sultan Al-Abdullah Al-Faisal, chairman of the SAMF.

Driving an older specification Overdrive Racing Toyota Hilux, Al-Rajhi posted a time of 2min 58.2sec to hold the advantage over second-placed Yasir Seaidan’s X–raid built MINI All4 Racing and third-placed Sami Al-Gafari in the car category.

Abu Dhabi Racing’s Sheikh Khalid Al-Qassimi carded a time of 3min 17sec and held 10th place in his Peugeot 2008, despite feeling unwell and running a temperature.

Ahmed Al-Shegawi and Russian navigator Alexei Kuzmich led the T2 section in their Toyota Land Cruiser from closest rival Reda Al-Shammeri.

Al-Gafari topped a competitive T3 category at the wheel of his Can-Am Maverick X3 and held a fine third overall, with Saleh Al-Saif and Yousef Al-Dhaif tied in fifth overall and equal second in T3, a mere 0.3 seconds behind their fellow Saudi. 

UAE rider Mohammed Al-Balooshi topped the standings on two wheels on his KTM 450 Rally with a time of 3min 14.8sec, while the leading quad runner was multiple Ha’il International Rally winner Abdulmajeed Al-Khulaifi. He had got the competitive action underway on his Yamaha and finished the stage 4.8 seconds quicker than fellow Saudi Sufyan Al-Omar.

Rally Qassim 2019 is running with the support of the Saudi Automobile and Motorcycle Federation, the General Sport Authority, Abdul Latif Jameel Motors (Toyota), the MBC Group and Al-Arabia.

Two desert selective sections at Umm Sidrah and Al-Shamasiya make up the real meat of the desert off-road action on Friday and Saturday before the finishing ceremony starts at 18:10hrs on Saturday evening. 

Rally Qassim 2019  positions after SSS (cars  unofficial):

1. Yazeed Al-Rajhi (SAU)/Michael Orr (GBR) Toyota Hilux Overdrive — 2min 58.2sec

2. Yasir Seaidan (SAU)/Paulo Fiuza (PRT) MINI All4 Racing — 3min 06.7sec

3. Sami Al-Gafari (SAU)/Ibrahim Al-Mohammed (SAU) Can-Am Maverick X3 (T3 — 3min 10.8sec

4. Miroslav Zapletal (CZE)/Marek Sykora (SVK) Ford F-150 Evo — 3min 11.0sec

5. Saleh Al-Saif (SAU)/Muath Al-Arja (SAU) Can-Am Maverick X3 (T3) — 3min 11.1sec

5. Yousef Al-Dhaif (SAU)/Pedro Santos (PRT) Can-Am Maverick X3 (T3) — 3min 11.1sec

7. Khalil Al-Tuwaijri (SAU)/Waleed Al-Tuwaijri (SAU) Can-Am Maverick X3 (T3) — 3min 13.8sec

8. Essa Al-Dossari (SAU)/Sebastien Delaunay (FRA) Nissan Navara — 3min 14.3sec

9. Haytham Al-Tuwaijri (SAU)/Rakan Al-Tuwaijri (SAU) Can-Am Maverick X3 (T3) — 3min 14.4sec

10. Khalid Al-Qassimi (ARE)/Xavier Panseri (FRA) Peugeot 2008  — 3min 17.0sec

10. Majed Al-Twijri (SAU)/Ayman Al-Khurayef (SAU) Can-Am Maverick X3 (T3) — 3min 17.0sec


Atletico catching all the breaks in Champions League

Updated 44 min 39 sec ago

Atletico catching all the breaks in Champions League

  • A victory against Leipzig will put Atletico back in the semifinals for the first time since 2017

LISBON: So far so good for Atletico Madrid in the quest for their first Champions League title.

Diego Simeone’s team have caught all the breaks going into the decisive final-eight tournament in Lisbon.

Old foes Real Madrid and Cristiano Ronaldo are gone. They drew Leipzig instead of a more traditional powerhouse for the quarterfinals. And their rival lost its top player after Timo Werner left for Chelsea. Even when things went wrong and the squad was hit by COVID-19, Atletico avoided the worst as only two players were infected and they could still make the trip to Portugal.

Things have been looking good for Simeone and his players.

A victory against Leipzig on Thursday will put Atletico back in the semifinals for the first time since it was eliminated by Ronaldo’s Madrid in the last four in 2017. Ronaldo and Madrid had defeated Atletico in the final in 2014 and 2016, and also ended the rival’s run in the quarterfinals in 2015.

Ronaldo again was Atletico’s nemesis last season after joining Juventus. Atletico lost to the Italian team in the round of 16 after Ronaldo scored a hat trick in the decisive second leg in Turin.

But this time Ronaldo and Juventus were eliminated by Lyon in the last 16, the same stage in which Madrid were knocked out of the tournament by Manchester City. Only two past champions are still left in the competition — Barcelona and Bayern Munich — and they play against each other in the opposite side of the draw, meaning Atletico could only meet one of them in the final.

Leipzig are a relative newcomer to the Champions League, having reached the group stage only twice. This is the first time they made it to the knockout round. They eliminated Tottenham in the round of 16, but now they won't count on top scorer Werner, who did not extend his contract by a few weeks to finish the season with the German club before moving to Chelsea.

Atletico stunned defending European champion Liverpool in the last 16, advancing after a 3-2 win in England.

“The game against Liverpool will go down in history and was one of the best we’ve had in a long time,” Atletico striker Diego Costa said. “It gave fans high expectations and we will give our best to try to meet those expectations. Hopefully we will play well and luck will stay on our side.”

Costa said Atletico will not take Leipzig lightly despite  the rival’s lack of experience in international competitions.

“They are very strong on the ball and know what they are about,” he said. “They have made it to the quarterfinals and have no pressure.”

There was a scare within Atletico this week when it announced two positive test results for COVID-19 among the group that was traveling to Lisbon. There were concerns that an outbreak within the club could have affected the team’s participation in the tournament in Portugal, but new tests showed that only Ángel Correa and Sime Vrsaljko were infected and the squad could travel to Lisbon.

Vrsaljko was not even going to play because he is nursing an injury, while Correa isn't among Atletico’s top stars even though he led the team in assists this season.

After coming agonizingly close recently, Atletico hope the breaks will keep going their way and that they  will finally get to lift the coveted European trophy.