Al-Rajhi, Al-Omar and Al-Masoud lead after opening stage of Riyadh Rally

Yazeed Al-Rajhi and Ulster co-driver Michael Orr in a Toyota Hilux in action during the start of Riyadh Rally. (Photo/Supplied)
Updated 29 November 2019

Al-Rajhi, Al-Omar and Al-Masoud lead after opening stage of Riyadh Rally

  • Forty-four cars, 12 NUTVs, 19 motorcycles, 18 quads and one truck passed the screening and started the event
  • Competitors will tackle a challenging 307km selective section through the deserts around neighboring Rumah on Friday

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Yazeed Al-Rajhi, Sufyan Al-Omar  and Sultan Al-Masoud led their respective car, motorcycle and quad categories after the opening Toyota super special stage at the Riyadh Rally, round four of the Saudi Toyota Desert Rally Championship, on Thursday afternoon.

Al-Rajhi and Ulster co-driver Michael Orr opened their account with the fastest time of 2min 20.6sec for the four-kilometer stage, and that put the Toyota Hilux crew 17.8 seconds quicker than Yasir Seaidan in his new MINI JCW Buggy. The current leader of the Saudi Toyota Desert rally series finished the stage in fifth position.

Dakar legend Stéphane Peterhansel was forced to switch co-drivers at the 11th hour after his wife Andrea failed a stringent pre-race medical check in Germany. Her place in one of two X–raid Buggies was taken by Portugal’s Paulo Fiuza. The Frenchman carded a time of 2min 28.9sec to hold third.

Peterhansel pointed out: “Right after the press conference last week in Paris, we had our yearly X-raid medical check. As there was not so much time left until the rally in Saudi Arabia we, X-raid and the doctor, decided to wait for the results and evaluations before Andrea gets back in a rally car. I have known Paulo for a long time through X-raid. We also know each other from the X-raid team trainings and he knows the terrain in Saudi Arabia from past events.”

Czech driver Miroslav Zapletal completed the stage in second place in his self-designed Ford F-150 Evo, 6.7 seconds behind leader Al-Rajhi. ED Racing’s Essa Al-Dossari was fourth and Ahmed Al-Qashimi rounded off the top six.

Reda Al-Shammeri led the T2 section for series-production cross-country vehicles by just 1.5 seconds from Yousef Al-Suwaidi.

Shaker Al-Tuwaijry topped the times in T3 in his Can-Am and Saleh Al-Saif led the NUTV category by 2.9 seconds in his Can-Am Maverick X3 from Yousef Al-Dhaif. Majed Al-Tuwaijri and Khalil Al-Tuwaijri tied to round off the top three.

Local rider Sufyan Al-Omar rode his Yamaha to the fastest time in the motorcycle section from Kuwait’s Abdullah Al-Shatti and fellow Saudi Abdullah Al-Malki. Abu Dhabi’s Mohammed Al-Balooshi, Saudi Arabia’s leading rider Mishal Alghuneim, Kiwi Philip Wilson and Al-Balooshi’s brother Sultan rounded off the top six. 

Sultan Al-Masoud set the unofficial quickest time among the quads to head Majed Al-Shegawi and series leader Abdulmajeed Al-Khulaifi at the overnight halt.

The Saudi trio of Ibrahim Al-Muhanna, Osama Al-Sanad and Raed Abo Theeb completed the stage in a Mercedes truck entered in the T4 category in 3min 33.2sec.

Forty-four cars, 12 NUTVs, 19 motorcycles, 18 quads and one truck passed all the scrutineering and technical checks and started the event, which is being 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.

The rally 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.

Friday, competitors will tackle a challenging 307km selective section through the deserts around neighboring Rumah.


India’s cricket great Virat Kohli not ready to ease leadership workload

Updated 19 February 2020

India’s cricket great Virat Kohli not ready to ease leadership workload

  • ‘It’s been about eight years now that I’ve been playing almost 300 days a year’
  • ‘The team wants a lot of my contribution in the next two or three years, so that we can ease into another transition’

WELLINGTON: Virat Kohli admitted Wednesday that captaining India in all three cricketing formats was grueling but insisted he was not yet ready to ease his leadership burden.
Speaking ahead of the opening Test against New Zealand in Wellington on Friday, Kohli, 31, said stepping back was on his mind, but not for a few years.
“It’s not a conversation to hide away from,” he told reporters. “It’s been about eight years now that I’ve been playing almost 300 days a year.
“With the traveling, practice sessions and the intensity being right up there all the time, it does take a toll on you.”
Asked about fellow players who had dropped one or more forms of the game in order to extend their careers, Kohli replied: “I’m not in that space at the moment.”
“Periodic breaks for me seem to work pretty OK,” he added.
“At a time when the body doesn’t respond as well, maybe at around 34, 35, you might have a different conversation, but for the next two or three years I have no issues.”
Kohli, who took over the Test captaincy in late 2014, said he wanted to ensure the Indian team was in a good place when he finally relaxed his grip on the reins.
“The team wants a lot of my contribution in the next two or three years, so that we can ease into another transition, which is what we faced about five or six years ago,” he said.
“The mindset is obviously on the larger picture and from that point of view, I am preparing myself for a rigorous three years.”
Kohli backed rookie opening batsmen Mayank Agarwal and Prithvi Shaw to shine at Wellington’s Basin Reserve, where India have not won a Test since 1968.
“These guys have no baggage, they’re not desperate in any way to perform here,” he said.
“They play with a fearlessness that can motivate the whole team and give us the kind of starts we want.”
Kohli expected the notorious Wellington wind to play a role in the match, saying it had to be carefully considered when weighing up bowling options.
“Wind in this stadium more than any other in the world plays a massive, massive role,” he said.