Yazeed Al-Rajhi claims narrow victory in Saudi Arabia's inaugural Rally Qassim 2019

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Updated 19 October 2019

Yazeed Al-Rajhi claims narrow victory in Saudi Arabia's inaugural Rally Qassim 2019

  • The Toyota Hilux driver was handed the time penalty by race officials on Friday evening for receiving outside assistance in the stage after his driveshaft issue
  • “I am very happy to win Rally Qassim after the problems we had yesterday with the differential and losing a lot of time,” said Al-Rajhi

BURAIDAH, Saudi Arabia: Saudi Arabia’s Yazeed Al-Rajhi overcame a five-minute time penalty that had pushed him down to second place to recover, set the second fastest time and confirm victory in Rally Qassim 2019, the second round of the Saudi Toyota Desert Rally Championship, on Saturday.

The Toyota Hilux driver was handed the time penalty by race officials on Friday evening for receiving outside assistance in the stage after his driveshaft issue. That had lifted Yasir Seaidan into the lead at the restart, but the challenge to Al-Rajhi and Ulster co-driver Michael Orr came from Sheikh Khalid Al-Qassimi on the last day.

The Abu Dhabi Racing driver set the fastest time of 1hr 47min 4sec on the Al-Shamasiya stage in his Peugeot 2008 and he and French co-driver Xavier Panseri reached the finish a mere 10 seconds adrift of Al-Rajhi’s Toyota after an impressive drive.

“I am very happy to win Rally Qassim after the problems we had yesterday with the differential and losing a lot of time,” said Al-Rajhi.

“I enjoyed the rally very much. The organizers did a great job to put on the first edition of Rally Qassim. The number of competitors was very high, even more than some of the international rallies in this region.

“It was tough to lose so much time on Friday. It was difficult to get that time back today because the stages are flat out. I would also like to thank my strategic partner Toyota and Abdul Latif Jameel Motors. The Hilux was in its best place in the desert.”

Seaidan and Portuguese co-driver Paulo Fiuza had to settle for third place in their X-raid-built MINI All4 Racing after finishing the day’s special a little under four minutes behind Al-Qassimi.

Essa Al-Dossari and French co-driver Sebastien Delaunay reached the Buraidah finish in fourth overall on the new off-road event being organized by the Saudi Automobile and Motorcycle Federation (SAMF) under the chairmanship of Prince Khalid bin Sultan Al-Abdullah Al-Faisal.

Czech Miroslav Zapletal moved up to fifth in his Ford F-150 Evo, Khalid Al-Feraihi was sixth and Emirati Abdullah Al-Heraiz climbed to seventh in his Nissan when Ali Al-Kharraz lost time and slipped out of contention. The Nissan trio of Ahmed, Faris and Mutair Al-Shammeri rounded off the top 10.

The 11th-placed Yousef Al-Suwaidi confirmed the win in the T2 section for series production cross-country vehicles and Khalil Al-Tuwaijri won T3 and headed a Can-Am 1-2-3 in the category from Yousef Al-Dhaif and Saleh Al-Saif.

Saudi drifting supreme Saeed Al-Mouri teamed up with Lebanese co-driver Joseph Matar, but the Nissan driver was sidelined with overheating issues.

UAE rider Mohammed Al-Balooshi sealed victory in the motorcycle category with the second- fastest time on the last stage on his KTM 450 Rally. The success was the Emirati’s second in the space of a month after his recent win at the Jordan Baja.

Saudi rider Mishal Alghuneim finished second overall, 4min 1sec behind Al-Balooshi, after winning Saturday’s stage in a time of 2hr 30min 20sec. Kuwait’s Abdullah Al-Shatti had been awarded seven hours of time penalties for missing waypoints on Friday and he came in seventh. Emirati Abdulla Al-Dakhan and Saudi rider Abdullah Al-Helal finished third and fourth and Briton Anthony King was a distant eighth.

Abdulmajeed Al-Khulaifi sealed an emphatic victory in the quad section on his Yamaha with a final stage time of 2hr 42in 14sec. That gave the Saudi a winning margin of 1hr 43min 49sec over Riyadh Al-Oraifan. Sultan Al-Masoud made it a Yamaha 1-2-3, despite picking up 90 minutes of time penalties for missing waypoints.

Ibrahim Al-Muhanna teamed up with Osama Al-Sanad and Raed Abo Theeb to guide the sole Mercedes truck to the finish in the T4 category.

Rally Qassim 2019 ran 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.


Rally Qassim 2019 – positions after SS3 (cars – unofficial @14.10hrs):

1. Yazeed Al-Rajhi (SAU)/Michael Orr (GBR) Toyota Hilux Overdrive 3hr 42min 14sec

2. Khalid Al-Qassimi (ARE)/Xavier Panseri (FRA) Peugeot 2008 3hr 42min 24sec

3. Yasir Seaidan (SAU)/Paulo Fiuza (PRT) MINI All4 Racing 3hr 44min 5sec

4. Essa Al-Dossari (SAU)/Sebastien Delaunay (FRA) Nissan Navara 3hr 53min 58sec

5. Miroslav Zapletal (CZE)/Marek Sykora (SVK) Ford F-150 Evo 4hr 4min 52sec

6. Khalid Al-Feraihi (SAU)/Stephane Duple (FRA) Nissan 4hr 5min 2sec

7. Abdullah Al-Huraiz (ARE)/Ali Hassan Obaid (ARE) Nissan Patrol 4hr 34min 26sec

8. Ahmed Al-Shammeri (SAU)/Ziad Al-Harbi (SAU) Nissan 4hr 46min 12sec

9. Faris Al-Shammeri (SAU)/Musa Djiyerian (JOR) Nissan 4hr 53min 19sec

10. Mutair Al-Shammeri (SAU)/Hani Al-Shammeri (SAU) Nissan 4hr 54min 15sec


Select others

11. Yousef Al-Suwaidi (SAU)/Saud Al-Tamimi (SAU) Nissan (T2) 5hr 1min 3sec

12. Khalil Al-Tuwaijri (SAU)/Waleed Al-Tuwaijri (SAU) Can-Am Maverick X3 (T3) 5hr 2min 3sec

13. Yousef Al-Dhaif (SAU)/Pedro Santos (PRT) Can-Am Maverick X3 (T3) 5hr 3min 52sec

14. Saleh Al-Saif (SAU)/Muath Al-Arja (SAU) Can-Am Maverick X3 (T3) 5hr 4min 17sec


Rally Qassim 2019 – positions after SS3 (bikes — unofficial):

1. Mohammed Al-Balooshi (ARE) KTM 450 Rally 5hr 11min 11sec

2. Mishal Algunheim (SAU) KTM 5hr 15min 12sec

3. Abdullah Bin Dakhan (ARE) Yamaha 8hr 9min 8sec

4. Abdullah Al-Helal (SAU) Honda 9hr 35min 38sec

5. Waleed Al-Nahad (SAU) Honda 9hr 39min 37sec


Rally Qassim 2019 – positions after SS3 (quads — unofficial):

1. Abdulmajeed Al-Khulaifi (SAU) Yamaha 5hr 18min 43sec

2. Riyadh Al-Oraifan (SAU) Yamaha 7hr 2min 32sec

3. Sultan Al-Masoud (SAU) Yamaha 8hr 20min 45sec

4. Sufyan Al-Omar (SAU) Yamaha 8hr 47min 47sec

5. Abdulmajeed bin Sumaidie (SAU) Yamaha 9hr 23min 1sec, etc

Rally Qassim 2019 – positions after SS3 (truck — unofficial):

1. Ibrahim Al-Muhanna/Osama Al-Sanad/Raed Abo Theeb (SAU) Mercedes 6hr 43min 33sec


‘Fight Island’ concept debuts in Abu Dhabi on Sunday

Updated 11 July 2020

‘Fight Island’ concept debuts in Abu Dhabi on Sunday

  • Plan to be unveiled on Sunday with the staging of the 13-fight UFC 251 event on Abu Dhabi’s Yas Island

DUBAI: When mixed martial arts supremo Dana White first floated his “Fight Island” concept, with its echoes of the Bruce Lee blockbuster “Enter the Dragon” where fighters were drawn into combat at a private getaway, eyebrows were raised.

“‘Fight Island’ is real. It’s a real thing,” said the Ultimate Fighting Championship boss when he announced the plan in April. “The infrastructure’s being built right now, and that’s really going to happen.”

White’s vision will be unveiled on Sunday with the staging of the 13-fight UFC 251 event on Abu Dhabi’s Yas Island.

The event will be headlined by a welterweight world title encounter between the Nigerian-American champion Kamaru Usman and Cuban-American challenger Jorge Masvidal.

It’s one of four “Fight Island” cards to be staged without an audience inside an arena on the resort and entertainment island throughout July, kicking off with three world title bouts and a title challenge eliminator.

Usman said during a virtual media event that he had been impressed by what he’d seen since arriving in the UAE on Thursday.

“I’m grateful for everything that’s been done,” said Usman, gunning for the second defense of his title. “All the precautions have been taken. After I go out there on Saturday and get my hand raised I’ll be glad to be heading home COVID-free.”

The UFC has made the move to Abu Dhabi from its Las Vegas base in an effort to isolate its fighters during the coronavirus pandemic.

Safety has been a major motivator, as has the promoter’s need to keep staging events — and collecting revenue — during a crisis that has shut down or forced massive overhauls to the staging of the world’s major sporting events.

Strict lockdown measures have been imposed on athletes, their entourages, officials, staff and media for the duration of their stay on Yas Island, on a site that has been completely sealed off until the event concludes on July 26.

Tests were taken before people arrived — initial headliner Gilbert Burns of Brazil failed, and stayed home, Masvidal’s coach Mike Brown suffered the same fate — and after landing there has been more testing, and 48 hours in-room quarantine.

“We were able to lock away with some mats and pads in our room and keep training as much as we could,” said Russian welterweight Muslim Salikhov, who fights Brazil’s Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos in Sunday’s preliminaries.

“The main thing everyone is saying is that we are here, and we are ready to fight because that’s what we do for a living.”

Abu Dhabi’s executive director of tourism and marketing, Ali Al-Shaiba, said protocols were stringent in the expansive “safe zone,” patrolled by police and expected to house around 2,000 people for the duration of the month-long event. Staff will be tested every 72 hours.