Dakar legend Peterhansel heads entry for Riyadh Rally

Andrea Peterhansel and wife co-driver Stephane Peterhansel in a MINI John Cooper Rally Works Buggies built by X-raid. (Photo/Supplied)
Updated 27 November 2019

Dakar legend Peterhansel heads entry for Riyadh Rally

  • The Frenchman will use the new Riyadh off-road event as a useful shakedown for the Dakar Rally

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.


Coronavirus forces fan ban at Italian football games

Updated 25 February 2020

Coronavirus forces fan ban at Italian football games

  • The Europa League game between Inter Milan and Ludogorets on Thursday will be affected
  • Italy reported its fifth death from the virus on Monday and it has the most confirmed cases in Europe

ROME: Upcoming matches in Italian Serie A and the Europa League will be played behind closed doors to combat the spread of coronavirus, the Italian sports minister announced on Monday evening.
“Following the demands of the sports world and knowing that the ban on sporting events open to the public remains in force in six regions of northern Italy, we have agreed to the holding of matches behind closed doors,” said Sports Minister Vincenzo Spadafora after a meeting of the Council of Ministers.
The Europa League game between Inter Milan and Ludogorets on Thursday will be affected, but the minister did not specify which Serie A matches at the weekend would be included in the ban.
There are six games in the regions he mentioned, including the clash on Sunday evening between leader Juventus and third-place Inter.
Italy reported its fifth death from the virus on Monday and it has the most confirmed cases in Europe.
Napoli’s Champions League match against Barcelona on Tuesday is not at risk.
The alternative to banning fans is to postpone games and Gabriele Gravina, the president of the Italian Football League made clear earlier in the day that he was opposed to thats.
“We have made an official request to Health Minister Roberto Speranza to have this game played behind closed doors,” Gravina told the press. “We expect a quick response, but we have been told that the outcome will be positive.”