RIYADH: The Saudi Automobile and Motorcycle Federation is organizing the Riyadh Rally, round four of the Saudi Toyota Desert Rally Championship, out of the Kingdom’s capital this weekend.
Heading another impressive entry across the car, motorcycle and quad categories is the legend of the forthcoming Dakar Rally. Stephane Peterhansel is the most successful biker and rider in the history of the event with six wins on a Yamaha motorcycle, three in a Mitsubishi and two in a Peugeot and a Mini.
The Frenchman will use the new Riyadh off-road event as a useful shakedown for the Dakar Rally before it is staged in Saudi Arabia for the first time at the start of January 2020. Peterhansel wheels out one of the latest specification MINI John Cooper Rally Works Buggies built by X-raid and has his wife Andrea sitting alongside.
His wife is a former Dakar enduro rider and factory rally driver in her own right. The couple have already won the gruelling Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge this season and clinched the prestigious FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Rallies title for the first time.
Two-time Dakar Rally winner and former WRC star Carlos Sainz and fellow Spaniard Lucas Cruz will replace the Peterhansels and join forces with the X-raid team to take part in the final round of the Saudi Toyota Desert Rally Championship in mid-December.
The German-based team also confirmed on Tuesday morning that local rallying star Yasir Seaidan will tackle the Riyadh event in one of the latest Buggies.
The Riyadh Rally is based at the Green Halls stadium complex in Riyadh City and is being organized by the Saudi Automobile and Motorcycle Federation (SAMF), under the chairmanship of Prince Khalid bin Sultan Al-Abdullah Al-Faisal and the supervision of former FIA Middle East champion Abdullah Bakhashab.
Teams will tackle 470 competitive kilometers on a route of 958km. Administration and scrutineering checks will take place on Wednesday before the official ceremonial start takes center stage from 3:40 p.m. on Thursday afternoon in nearby Diriyah. This precedes the opening Toyota Super Special stage of four kilometers, starting at 3:45 p.m.
A longer Rumah selective section of 307km gets underway at 9:45 this Friday morning and a second timed section of 160km through the scenic Saad National Park brings the competitive action to a conclusion on Saturday. The ceremonial finish will take place later in the afternoon in Diriyah.
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.