Al-Rajhi heads massive field into Riyadh Rally on Thursday

Mishal Alghuneim and Abdulmajeed Al-Khulaifi. (Photo/ Supplied)
Updated 27 November 2019

Al-Rajhi heads massive field into Riyadh Rally on Thursday

RIYADH: Another stunning entry of 47 cars, 14 NUTVs, one truck, 24 motorcycles and 21 quads will line up at the start of the Riyadh Rally, the fourth round of the Saudi Toyota Desert Rally Championship, which starts in Ad Diriyah on Thursday afternoon.

 Saudi Arabia’s Yazeed Al-Rajhi heads the car field in his Toyota Hilux, the winner of the recent AlUla-Neom Cross-Country Rally keen to hunt down current series leader Yasir Seaidan. The latter has a four-point series lead and has switched from a MINI All4 Racing to one of X-raid’s latest MINI JCW Buggies for the two days of desert action around Rumah and the Saad National Park.

While the two Saudi adversaries lock horns in the fight for the inaugural Saudi Toyota Desert Rally Championship title, competition will come from French legend Stéphane Peterhansel in a second X-raid Buggy, Essa Al-Dossari in an ED Racing Nissan Navara and the experienced Czech driver Miroslav Zapletal in his self-designed Ford F-150 Evo.

 Saudi drivers dominate the car category in various Toyota and Nissan derivatives, while Ahmed Al-Shegawi tops the T2 category for series production cross-country vehicles and faces competition from the likes of Salman Al-Shammeri, Yousef Al-Suwaidi and Muteb Al-Shammeri.

 Saleh Al-Saif will be hoping to prevail in the T3 category with his Can-Am Maverick X3, while Yousef Al-Dhaif, Majed Al-Tuwaijri and Fahad Al-Naim top the 14-strong NUTV section.

HIGHLIGHT

  • An interesting name appearing on the entry list in the Kingdom for the first time is that of Dutch navigator Wouter Rosegaar (the former co-driver for Erik van Loon), who sits alongside the talented young Saudi driver Saleh Al-Abdulaali in a powerful T1 Hummer.

Ibrahim Al-Muhanna, Osama Al-Sanad and Raed Abo Theeb continue their pre-Dakar preparations in a Mercedes truck entered in the T4 category.

An interesting name appearing on the entry list in the Kingdom for the first time is that of Dutch navigator Wouter Rosegaar (the former co-driver for Erik van Loon), who sits alongside the talented young Saudi driver Saleh Al-Abdulaali in a powerful T1 Hummer.

 KTM rider Mishal Alghuneim has already confirmed his entry into January’s Dakar Rally and Saudi Arabia’s leading rider tops the 24-strong motorcycle category. Abu Dhabi’s Mohammed Al-Balooshi returns to Saudi action after missing the third round of the Saudi Toyota Desert Rally Championship and is joined by his brother Sultan Al-Balooshi, Emirati Abdullah bin Dakhan and four additional UAE riders. Kuwait’s Abdullah Al-Shatti is also present.

Yamaha’s Abdulmajeed Al-Khulaifi will also tackle his first Dakar at the start of 2020 and the current leader of the quad category in the Saudi Toyota Desert Rally Championship heads a field of 21 riders that also includes Walid Al-Shegawi and Abdulaziz Al-Shayban.

 The event is 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.

 It runs 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.

 The official ceremonial start will take place on Thursday in Diriyah from 15:40hrs and precedes the opening 4km Toyota Super Special stage, starting at 15:45hrs.

 


Runners step back in time on AlUla’s historic trails

Updated 19 February 2020

Runners step back in time on AlUla’s historic trails

  • Top-ranked athletes came from Saudi Arabia, the US and the Netherlands

ALULA: More than 260 athletes from around the world took part in the recent EcoTrail AlUla, a multi-track running race through the dramatic landscapes of AlUla in Saudi Arabia’s northwest.
Top-ranked athletes came from Saudi Arabia, the US and the Netherlands. The race was staged as part of the second season of the Winter at Tantora festival, organized by the Royal Commission for AlUla to promote the historic site as an exceptional tourist destination for heritage, arts, culture and sports.

Events took place on three different courses — an 83 km track, followed by a 45 km and a 10 km track — with international athletes taking part in each of the races.

In the 10 km course, 139 contestants took part in the competition, with 125 managing to complete the run. Saudi runner Mohammed Madkhali won first place, while Yemeni runner Fares Aman Aldin came in second and another Saudi runner, Meshari Almuhanna, finished third.

In the women’s category, US runner Meredith Byrne won first place, Saudi runner Sarah Abdullatif came in second, and British runner Maureen McConnell finished third.

Ninety athletes took part in the 45 km race, with 85 finishing. Saudi runner Abdulaziz Al-Ghamdi came in first, with Australian Matthew Sudich second and French runner Nicholas Mordelet in third.

In the women’s category, Dutch runner Floortje Rawee came in first, followed by Italian Alessandra Grassi in second and American Natasha Turak third.

The 83 km race featured 37 athletes with only 17 finishing. In the men’s category, US runner Michael Wardian finished first, followed by Pierre Breuer from Belgium in second and Malaysia’s Soonseng Ong third.

In the women’s category, Amy Sproston from the US ranked first, with Ruth Theresia from Indonesia second and American Rachel Bessette third.

EcoTrail AlUla attracted athletes from around the world, most notably the US, UK, Germany, Belgium, Switzerland, France, Sweden, the UAE, Malaysia, Singapore, Jordan, Oman, Peru, Poland and Indonesia.

The one-day trail gave visitors the opportunity to become acquainted with AlUla and its distinctive natural, cultural, architectural and historical monuments. The trail is an eye-catching destination for running enthusiasts and jogging clubs, and will encourage people to visit AlUla and Saudi Arabia to take part in a global sporting event that promotes environmentally friendly principles and initiatives.

The race contained several medical care stops and catering stations, and each participant received a number in addition to a welcome gift and a shirt. An inaugural dinner was held to welcome contestants on the night before the race.

EcoTrail AlUla is the first race to occur in the Middle East and one of the most notable sports events of this year’s Winter at Tantora festival. The race was sponsored by STC, Almarai Company, Sabeeka Energy Bar, Whites, and Hussak Adventures. The festival’s latest season also provides a wide range of diverse experiences that meet the needs of all visitors and entertain all tastes, for individuals, groups or families from all walks of life.

The festival began on Dec. 19 and will run until March 7, 2020. Guests of the second season of this year will be able to visit the astonishing historical and heritage sites exclusively, and attend the international musical and artistic performances.