Seaidan maintains lead as Al-Rajhi wins second stage of AlUla–Neom Cross-Country Rally

Yazeed Al-Rajhi recorded the fastest time of 1:39:40 in his Toyota Hiluxat the start of the second day of the Saudi Toyota Desert Rally Championship. (Supplied)
Updated 07 November 2019

Seaidan maintains lead as Al-Rajhi wins second stage of AlUla–Neom Cross-Country Rally

  • Emirati Khalid Al-Qassimi slips a place to third in the overall rankings in his Peugeot 2008

ALULA: Yasir Seaidan maintained his outright lead in the AlUla–Neom Cross-Country Rally, but saw his advantage trimmed to 2 minutes 52 seconds by fellow Saudi Arabian Yazeed Al-Rajhi on the second 212 kilometer loop stage through the deserts around Al-Ula on Thursday.

Seaidan had guided his MINI All4 Racing to a lead of 5 minutes 45 seconds at the start of the second day of the third round of the Saudi Toyota Desert Rally Championship, but Al-Rajhi recorded the fastest time of 1:39:40 in his Toyota Hilux; Seaidan came third behind Abu Dhabi Racing’s Khalid Al-Qassimi.

“The stage today was the same as yesterday,” said Al-Rajhi. “I pushed hard and I am happy with my time. After 130 kilometers, I slowed down because of the dust from the car in front. I was in the dust for the last 70 kilometers. Hopefully I can continue like this with this pace on Friday.”

Despite finishing as the stage runner-up, Al-Qassimi slipped a place to third in the overall rankings in his Peugeot 2008, but closed the gap on the leader to 4 minutes, 42 seconds. The Emirati said: “Today was quite fast and tricky. We don’t really have as good a top speed as the other cars. It is a buggy at the end of the day. It is not easy and we took some risks to be on the pace with the other cars.”

The new Spanish pairing of Formula One star Fernando Alonso and Marc Coma continued their learning curve with fourth place for the second day in the second of the Toyota Hiluxes, with Alonso staying clear of trouble to post a time of 1:47:15 seconds that leaves him 11:46 off the lead.

He said: “It was the same as yesterday, but I pushed more and was a bit faster because I have more knowledge of the stage. I am happy with my stage, especially with the first part, where we were 8 seconds behind Yazeed. I got a puncture today but I had more confidence than yesterday. Friday’s stage will be new for everyone and this is the learning curve for me.”

Czech Miroslav Zapletal displaced Essa Al-Dossary and climbed to fifth overall in his Ford F-150 Evo after beating his Nissan rival by 83 seconds on the day’s special.

The best of the rest was Saudi Arabia’s Khalid Al-Feraihi at the helm of his Nissan Patrol and the Saudi climbed to seventh in the rankings with French navigator Stéphane Duplé. Ahmed Al-Shegawi lost over 40 minutes and plummeted from seventh to 21st overall after his car rolled near the finish and he needed outside assistance to complete the day’s selective section.

The Saudi trio of Mutair Al-Shammeri, Mohammed Al-Tijiwri and new TL2 category leader Salman Al-Shammeri rounded off the top 10 of the event, organized 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.

Salman Al-Shammeri now leads the showroom TL2 category by 2:11 from Sallal Al-Dossari.

Saleh Al-Saif climbed a position to 14th in the overall standings and maintained his lead in the T3 section in a Can-Am. Race officials also ran an NUTV class for Can-Am, Yamaha and Polaris derivatives and Yousef Al-Dhaif teamed up with French co-driver Laurent Lichtleuchter to head the category by 25:48 after two stages.

Among the retirements were Mohammed Alabdulali from the NUTV section and Hummer driver Saleh Al-Abdulali, while Ibrahim Al-Muhanna did not start the stage in the T4 truck category.

KTM rider Mishal Alghuneim was the solitary survivor in the motorcycle class after Mohammed Al-Oraini and Abdullah Al-Helal both retired. Abdulmajeed Al-Khulaifi extended his lead in the quad section to 34:23 after an impressive fastest time that left closest rivals Riyadh Al-Orafan and Walid Al-Shegawi trailing in his wake.

Competitors will tackle a new stage of 231 kilometers from Al-Ula to Neom that will take them through the village of Abu Gazaz on Friday.

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


Saudi esports world cup winner a ‘class’ role model for young players: Gaming chief

Updated 15 November 2019

Saudi esports world cup winner a ‘class’ role model for young players: Gaming chief

  • Prince Faisal said the fast pace of technological advances was changing not only how people lived but their view of sport.

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s 2018 FIFA eWorld Cup winner Mosaad Al-Dossary was the kind of role model young players should be looking to emulate, according to the Kingdom’s esports gaming chief.

President of the Saudi Arabian Federation for Electronics and Intellectual Sports (SAFEIS), Prince Faisal bin Bandar bin Sultan, told Arab News he was “proud” of Al-Dossary for his esports achievements and for showing “his class as a human being.”

Speaking on the sidelines of the Misk Global Forum, in Riyadh, the prince said the fast pace of technological advances was changing not only how people lived but their view of sport.

Equating esports to traditional sports, he stressed it was important that young people moderated their time playing video competitions. 

“Moderation in everything,” he quoted his father as telling him.

“Everything has its positives, within reason. I don’t expect our professional (esports) players to be playing for 18 hours a day. What we advocate is having good mental health, social health as well as good physical health.”

Prince Faisal said it was important that youth chose their heroes carefully, and Al-Dossary was an example of the perfect role model. 

“I’m proud of him for all of his many accomplishments in gaming, but I’m prouder of who he is as a person.”

He noted that during Al-Dossary’s winning participation in the Manchester FUT Champions Cup, in the UK, one of the tournament’s young competitors had fallen ill and was taken to hospital. Al-Dossary had ducked out of victory celebrations to go and visit his sick opponent, taking with him the green scarf awarded to world cup qualifiers which he left on the young man’s bedside table as a gift.

“I’m prouder of him for doing that, brightening up his opponent’s day, than I am of him winning the world cup,” the prince said. 

“He showed his class as a human being, not as an esports player. And that’s what we expect of all of our athletes and all of our young kids across all industries and sports.

“That’s the caliber of person that we have in Saudi, in our communities and that’s what I want to showcase to the world.”

Prince Faisal admitted that online harassment could be a problem, but said it was a global issue that could only be solved through education.

“There are errors, and esports and gaming is a new era, and it’s a new era of accessibility. Along with that comes a learning curve and an education curve,”he added.