Al-Rajhi holds off Peterhansel to extend lead in Riyadh Rally

Riyadh Rally is being organized by the Saudi Automobile and Motorcycle Federation, under the chairmanship of Prince Khalid bin Sultan Al-Abdullah Al-Faisal. (Photo/Supplied)
Updated 29 November 2019

Al-Rajhi holds off Peterhansel to extend lead in Riyadh Rally

  • The Rumah stage victory extends the Saudi driver’s overall advantage to 54 seconds
  • On Saturday, competitors will tackle a shorter section of 160 km through the scenic Saad National Park before a ceremonial finish at Diriyah

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.

SPEEDREAD

  • Like Peterhansel, series rival Yasir Seaidan drove an X-raid prepared MINI JCW Buggy and finished the stage in 3rd, 2 minutes and 41 seconds adrift of the outright leader.
  • Czech driver Miroslav Zapletal slipped to 5th 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 6th, followed by Faris Al-Moshna Al-Shammeri, Sami and Al-Mashna Al-Shammeri and Khalid Al-Remali.

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.


World No. 1 Brooks Koepka in defiant mood ahead of return to Saudi International at KAEC

Updated 23 min 55 sec ago

World No. 1 Brooks Koepka in defiant mood ahead of return to Saudi International at KAEC

  • Saudi International is returning to King Abdullah Economic City (KAEC) next week
  • Second edition of the tournament, which is part of the European Tour

JEDDAH: The Saudi International powered by SoftBank Investment Advisers is returning to King Abdullah Economic City (KAEC) next week from Jan. 30 — Feb. 2.

World No. 1 Brooks Koepka shared his thoughts about his chances ahead of the European Tour event at Royal Greens & Country Club.

Q. You’re currently on the verge of breaking into the top 10 players to have spent longest at world #1. What does that mean to you and are records something you’re driven by?
Brooks Koepka: It’s great to be world number one, and I want to stay there but being number one is really a by-product of playing well, which is my first aim. There are lots of other world-class golfers playing well at the moment and this week is a good chance to win some valuable points to keep me at the top.

Q. Your often-discussed record in majors proves that you are a golfer who can play arguably his best golf under the greatest of pressures. Where do you think this coolness on the big stage comes from?
BK: I think it’s just because I am very competitive, and I love to win. No athlete plays a sport just to take part: everyone wants to win. That drives me to play my best golf when it really matters. I also work hard off the course so that I am as prepared as I can be when I get into the heat of competition.

Q. The Saudi International marks your second tournament back from injury (knee). How are you feeling heading into it?
BK: I’m feeling really good. It’s going to be my second tournament since October, so I am excited to get back on the course and compete against some of the world’s best players. It’s never a good thing being injured but I’ve come back from injury well before. In some ways it gives you a chance to recharge and start the new year fresh.

Q. Does an injury like the one you’ve experienced change your mindset when you return?
BK: I’m playing to win. Once I’m on the course, I forget everything else and just play golf. I didn’t play my best golf here last year so I’m ready for a strong finish in Saudi.

Q. How important is it for golf to be coming to Saudi Arabia and bringing the game into a new market?
BK: It’s great to see the game growing worldwide and having played in Saudi Arabia last year, I know the positive effect the tournament had on the country.

Q. What do you hope to learn from Saudi Arabia during your time competing and how excited are you about playing in the tournament?
BK: I am really looking forward to playing at Royal Greens again as I thought the layout was really impressive. I hope my experience playing in this event last year will allow me to contend for this year’s title.

Q. More young people in Saudi Arabia are watching sport or taking up sport. What would you say to encourage them to take up golf and what can they learn from the sport?
BK:
It’s great to see so many young people wanting to get into the game. If you enjoy watching it, you will certainly love playing it.

Q. What’s the ambition for 2020 after such strong seasons in 2018 and 2019?
BK:
Right now, I just want to get back playing. I’m looking forward to a strong season and being in contention in all of the tournaments I play in, which come September will put me in a strong position for the Ryder Cup. As far as I am concerned, the Saudi International is the most important tournament in front of me right now.

Q. Many people in Saudi Arabia will not have attended a golf championship. What can they expect, and what do fans get from watching the golf live and up close that is just impossible to experience through the TV?
BK:
I think coming to a golf event is the best way to watch the game. You are part of the event, you can see exactly what the players are going through at any point. You can also follow your favorite golfers around the course all day, which sometimes the TV doesn’t do depending on who you want to follow.