RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Yazeed Al-Rajhi beat French legend Stéphane Peterhansel by 46 seconds in the challenging second 307 km section through the deserts around Rumah on Friday morning.
The Rumah stage victory extends his overall advantage in the Riyadh Rally to 54 seconds.
Aiming to win the inaugural Saudi Toyota Desert Rally Championship and continue valuable pre-Dakar Rally testing, Al-Rajhi and Northern Irish co-driver Michael Orr clocked a time of 2 hours, 18 minutes, and 40 seconds in a Toyota Hilux.
Like Peterhansel, series rival Yasir Seaidan drove an X-raid prepared MINI JCW Buggy and finished the stage in third, 2 minutes, 41 seconds adrift of the outright leader. Czech driver Miroslav Zapletal slipped to fifth place behind ED Racing’s Essa Al-Dossari and a plethora of Saudi drivers filled the remaining places inside the top 10. Mutair Al-Shammeri was the best of the bunch in sixth, followed by Faris Al-Moshna Al-Shammeri, Sami and Al-Mashna Al-Shammeri and Khalid Al-Remali.
Salman Al-Shammeri moved to the top of the T2 standings for series-production cross-country vehicles with the fastest time, putting the Nissan driver 4 minutes and 41 seconds ahead of Farhan Al-Muharib. Yousef Al-Suwaidi held third overall and Talal Al-Bader moved his Ford up into fourth.
Saleh Al-Saif extended his advantage in the NUTV section to 1 minute 49 seconds at the wheel of a Can-Am Maverick X3. Yousef Al-Dhaif maintained second position and Khalil Al-Tuwaijri was third.
Saudi Arabia’s leading rider Mishal Alghuneim hit the front in the motorcycle category with the fastest time of 3 hours 53 seconds. That enabled the KTM rider to forge a 1 minute 20 seconds advantage over Abu Dhabi’s Mohammed Al-Balooshi. His brother Sultan came home in third place after incurring a one-minute penalty and Kuwait’s Abdullah Al-Shatti rounded off the top four.
As both Abdullah Al-Malki and Abdullah Al-Shegawi retired from the quad category, pre-race favorite Abdulmajeed Al-Khulaifi incurred 57 minutes of time penalties and plummeted down the running order before retiring from the day with another fistful of penalties.
Sultan Al-Masoud clocked the unofficial fastest time before any potential penalties were imposed and returned to Riyadh on his Yamaha ahead of Fahad Al-Madah and Sufyan Al-Omar.
The event is being organized by the Saudi Automobile and Motorcycle Federation, under the chairmanship of Prince Khalid bin Sultan Al-Abdullah Al-Faisal and supervision of former International Automobile Federation 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.
On Saturday, competitors will tackle a shorter section of 160 km through the scenic Saad National Park before a ceremonial finish at Diriyah, near Riyadh.