Al-Rajhi trims Seaidan’s lead in AlUla–Neom Cross-Country Rally to set up final day

Saudi driver Yasir Seaidan saw his lead in the AlUla–Neom Cross-Country Rally trimmed on Friday morning’s penultimate competitive section. (Photo/Supplied)
Updated 08 November 2019

Al-Rajhi trims Seaidan’s lead in AlUla–Neom Cross-Country Rally to set up final day

  • Saudi Toyota Desert Rally Championship attracts fierce competition across all categories

ALULA: Saudi driver Yasir Seaidan saw his lead in the AlUla–Neom Cross-Country Rally trimmed to just 1 minute 14 seconds on Friday morning’s penultimate competitive section, as the stage-winning Yazeed Al-Rajhi set up the prospect of a thrilling finale on Saturday.

Leading by 2min 52sec at the night halt in AlUla, MINI All4 driver Seaidan and French co-driver François Cazalet sustained a puncture in the first 30km but went on to clock the second quickest time on the penultimate 231km timed section from Al Ula to the new city of Neom on a route that passed through the village of Abu Gazaz.

At the helm of a Toyota Hilux, Al-Rajhi and Russian navigator Konstantin Zhiltsov also survived two punctures and recorded a time of 1hr 31min 55sec.

The Spanish pairing of Formula One star Fernando Alonso and Marc Coma continued their rapid progression with a best stage performance thus far, Alonso clocking the third quickest time of 1hr 33min 50sec to close the gap on Sheikh Khalid Al-Qassimi and Xavier Panseri to 6min 22sec in the battle for the final slot on the podium.

Abu Dhabi Racing’s Al-Qassimi was concerned by a down-on-power engine and was waiting for his engineer to assess any damage before he made a decision as to whether to continue into the final day.

The new Saudi Toyota Desert Rally Championship has attracted fierce competition across all categories. ED Racing’s Essa Al-Dossary continued to trade times with Czech rival Miroslav Zapletal and the Nissan Navara driver regained fifth in the overall classification by beating the Ford F-150 Evo by 65 seconds.

Saudi Arabia’s Khalid Al-Feraihi and French navigator Stephane Duple maintained seventh overall in a Nissan Patrol. 

Mutair Al-Shammeri was eighth and Mohammed Al-Tijiwri and Faris Al-Shammeri rounded off the top 10, the latter setting the eighth fastest time with Jordanian co-driver Musa Djiyerian to continue a rapid climb through the field.

Salman Al-Shammeri held 11th overall and saw his TL2 category advantage over Sallal Al-Dossari increase to five minutes. 

Yousef Al-Suwaidi was classified in 15th and led the T2 section for series production cross-country vehicles. Saleh Al-Saif dropped time in terms of the overall leader board but stayed on course for the TL3 section win.

Local driver Yousef Al-Dhaif and French co-driver Laurent Lichtleuchter continued to dominate the NUTV class in their Can-Am Maverick X3 from Majed Al-Tiwijri. 

Mubarak Al-Zubaidi (Toyota) and Ahmed Al-Qashimi (Nissan) retired from the T1 class and joined ED Racing’s Abdullah Al-Huraiz, who did not start the day’s stage.

KTM rider Mishal Alghuneim maintained full control of the motorcycle category, although Abdullah Al-Helal did return to competition on Friday morning after incurring massive time penalties on Thursday. Yamaha’s Abdulmajeed Al-Khulaifi won a third successive stage in the quad category to increase his lead over closest rival Riyadh Al-Orafan to 56min 30sec.

The final selective section of 175km loops through the deserts around Neom in the northwest of Saudi Arabia on Saturday morning.


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.”