Yasir Seaidan snatches early lead in AlUla-Neom race

Essa Al-Dossary was fifth place in his ED Racing Nissan Navara. (Supplied)
Updated 07 November 2019

Yasir Seaidan snatches early lead in AlUla-Neom race

ALULA: Yasir Seaidan was the early leader of the AlUla–Neom Cross-Country Rally, the third round of the Saudi Toyota Desert Rally Championship, after setting the fastest time of 1hr 47min 08sec on the opening loop stage of 212km around AlUla on Wednesday.

The MINI All4 Racing driver and French navigator François Cazalet won the stage by 5min 45sec from Abu Dhabi Racing Sheikh Khalid Al-Qassimi and French co-driver Xavier Panseri in a Peugeot 2008. “It was a fast stage with nice scenery but we lost a few minutes after 46km and tried hard to catch the time up again,” said Al-Qassimi, a former FIA Middle East rally champion. 

Pre-race favorite Yazeed Al-Rajhi lost more time than anticipated trying to change a left rear puncture when one of the bolts wouldn’t free itself. The Toyota Hilux driver finished third with Russian navigator Konstantin Zhiltsov and returned to AlUla 6min 24sec off the lead.

Two-time former FIA Formula One World Champion Fernando Alonso quickly got into the groove across the Saudi deserts with navigator Marc Coma and was pleased to complete the day’s action in fourth place, 79 seconds behind his Toyota teammate. 

Alonso said: “The first stage in Saudi Arabia was okay for me, over 200km, without any issues and this is a good start for us because we had a lot of problems in South Africa and Morocco. This is good for our preparations. Tomorrow I hope we have a day with a little bit more pace. The terrain today was amazing. It is nice to see it.”

Former Ha’il Rally winner Essa Al-Dossary was the best of the rest in fifth place in his ED Racing Nissan Navara. 

Czech Miroslav Zapletal rounded off the top six on the high-speed opening stage of the four-day event being organised by the Saudi Automobile and Motorcycle Federation (SAMF), under the chairmanship of Prince Khalid bin Sultan Al-Abdullah Al-Faisal and supervision of former FIA Middle East champion Abdullah Bakhashab. 

Yousef Al-Suwaidi led the TL2 category for series production cross-country vehicles in 14th place in a Nissan and Saleh Al-Saif topped the T3 standings in 15th at the helm of his Can-Am. Saudi driver Saeed Al-Mouri retired from the day’s action suffering from back pain. 

Mishal Alghuneim was the only motorcycle rider to complete the full stage on his KTM in a time of 3hr 07min 42sec. The Saudi built up a massive lead when time penalties were imposed on rivals Mohammed Al-Oraini and Abdullah Al-Helal. 

Competition was far closer in the quad category, where recent Rally Qassim winner Abdulmajeed Al-Khulaifi edged into a 3min 07sec advantage over fellow Yamaha rider Riyadh Al-Orafan. Sufyan Al-Omar was third of the nine quad riders who started the stage. Abdulsalem Hamam crashed and sustained a leg injury and was supported by Nissan driver Ahmed Al-Shegawi at the scene of the incident. 

Teams will tackle a second loop of 212km around AlUla on Thursday. 

The event is running with the support of the Saudi Automobile and Motorcycle Federation, the General Sport Authority, Abdul Latif Jameel Motors (Toyota), the MBC Group, Al-Arabia outdoors and the Saudi Research and Marketing Group. 



Saudi female racing driver to make history by becoming first to compete in the Kingdom

Updated 12 November 2019

Saudi female racing driver to make history by becoming first to compete in the Kingdom

DUBAI: Reema Juffali will create history later this month at the Diriyah Circuit as the first Saudi Arabian woman to compete in an international racing series in the Kingdom.

Reema made her competitive racing debut in October last year just months after a watershed moment for the Kingdom that allowed women to drive.

After a string of impressive performances, she will join the official support race for the Diriyah E Prix, the Jaguar I-PACE eTROPHY series, as the VIP driver for the double header opening weekend at the UNESCO World Heritage site on the outskirts of Riyadh.

“I am thrilled to be the Jaguar I-PACE eTROPHY VIP driver for the first race of season two. I can’t wait to be out on track racing on home soil for the first time,” Reema said.

Reema Juffali will create history later this month at the Diriyah Circuit. (Supplied)

“The series has highlighted the innovation and progress of motorsport, giving more opportunity for men and women to compete together in cool electric racecars. It’s going to be an amazing weekend and I can’t wait to be out on the grid.”

Reema made history by becoming the first Saudi female race license holder to compete in the TRD 86 Cup at Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi in October last year, taking second place in the Silver Category and fourth overall. Her previous racing experience also includes the MRF Challenge in India.

“We are so excited to have Reema join us in Diriyah as our VIP driver. Her progress in her first year of single-seater racing is very impressive. To have the first Saudi Arabian woman to compete in an international racing series within the Kingdom is a major milestone for the sport, and one Jaguar Racing are immensely proud to be able to support,” Mark Turner, the Jaguar I-PACE eTROPHY Series Manager said.

“The Diriyah Circuit has become the home of watershed moments for the Kingdom. We saw the first female drivers here last year, the first unsegregated concerts, and of course it was the first time that Formula E and the Jaguar I-Pace eTrophy had raced in Saudi Arabia,” Prince Abdulaziz Bin Turki AlFaisal Al Saud, Chairman of the GSA, said.

“This year we will again see more inspiring moments which help show the world the journey the Kingdom is on. I am sure Reema will have thousands cheering her on, as a professional racing driver I shall be one of them.”