Saudi Arabia’s AlUla-Neom Cross-Country Rally races to life

The AlUla-Neom Cross-Country Rally go under way. (SPA)
Updated 06 November 2019

Saudi Arabia’s AlUla-Neom Cross-Country Rally races to life

  • The first phase will be over a distance of 212 km

ALULA: The AlUla-Neom Cross-Country Rally, the third round of the new Saudi Toyota Desert Rally Championship, roared into life with a fanfare ceremonial start outside AlUla on Tuesday afternoon.

A large crowd of visitors and local residents gathered at Al-Dawarat center to witness Prince Khalid bin Sultan Al-Abdullah Al-Faisal, president of Saudi Automobile and Motorcycle Federation, and AlUla Gov. Rashid Abdullah Al-Qahtani flag off 60 cars and 16 motorcycles from 22 nations at the start of the third round of the championship.

Before the podium start, racing icons including two-time former Formula One World Champion Fernando Alonso, winner of the second-round of Rally Qassim 2019 Yazeed Al-Rajhi and top Emirati rally driver Sheikh Khalid Al Qassimi attended the official pre-press conference.

The rally began between AlUla and Neom yesterday with a first phase of 212 km, which will be followed by a second phase on Wednesday of 212 km. On Thursday, racers will pass through the village of Abu Qazzaz in a stretch of 231 km, before finally facing the 175 km fourth stage in the Neom area on Saturday.

“This is a ground-breaking event for Saudi Arabia and we are extremely proud to see so many famous names from the world of cross-country rallying here with us,” said Al-Faisal.

He welcomed Alonso for taking part in the rally: “We are very pleased to have such a legendary name in our local rally list and we hope that he will have a successful experience before joining the Dakar Rally, which will be hosted by the Kingdom.”

Alonso will be seen behind the wheels of one of the eight Hiluxes to be fielded by Overdrive Racing and Toyota Gazoo Racing Team South Africa.

Speaking during the pre-event press conference, Alonso said that the AlUla Neom rally will be “excellent training” for him on similar terrain to the Dakar stages next January.

He said: “I am very happy to be here in Saudi Arabia for the first time and would like to express my gratitude for the great welcome and hospitality I have received since I landed here.”

He added “This is my second desert rally after Morocco. I am sure my team will enjoy the stay in this beautiful country and hope to see you again at the Dakar Rally.”


Luis Suarez suspected of cheating on Italian exam

Updated 22 September 2020

Luis Suarez suspected of cheating on Italian exam

  • The Italian exam was a first step required in order to receive a passport ahead of a possible transfer to Juventus
  • Juventus coach Andrea Pirlo said a proposed deal for Suarez was unlikely to go ahead because of delays in the Uruguayan’s bid to get an Italian passport

ROME: Barcelona forward Luis Suarez is suspected of cheating to pass his Italian language test with the help of his teachers, the Perugia prosecutor’s department in charge of the investigation said on Tuesday.
The Italian exam was a first step required in order to receive a passport ahead of a possible transfer to Juventus.
“The investigation showed that the subjects discussed during the exam were agreed beforehand with the candidate and that the grade was awarded to him even before the test,” the prosecutor’s department said in a statement.
Local prosecutor Raffaele Cantone, a former head of Italy’s National Anti-Corruption Authority, had been carrying out an investigation since February into University for Foreigners officials over various irregularities. Suspicions over Suarez were aroused by an overheard conversation.
“But what do you think, that we’re going to fail him? Today I have the last lesson (with Suarez) and I have to prepare it because he barely speaks a word” of Italian, Stefania Spina, one of the people targeted by the investigation, is claimed to have said according to prosecution documents cited by Italian media.
Asked by a colleague what level Suarez “should pass” in Italian, Spina reportedly replied: “He should not, he must, he will pass, because with a salary of 10 million (euros) per season, you can’t make him fail” his exam, “even if he doesn’t know how to conjugate verbs and speak in the infinitive.”
Juventus coach Andrea Pirlo said last week a proposed deal for Suarez was unlikely to go ahead because of delays in the Uruguayan’s bid to get an Italian passport.
The Italian champions cannot recruit Suarez otherwise because they have already reached their quota for non-EU players.