Al-Dossari stakes claim with fourth-fastest Riyadh Rally time

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Yasir Seaidan brought his MINI JCW Buggy home in third place and maintained the pressure on his rival. (Photo/Supplied)
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Yasir Seaidan brought his MINI JCW Buggy home in third place and maintained the pressure on his rival. (Photo/Supplied)
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Yasir Seaidan brought his MINI JCW Buggy home in third place and maintained the pressure on his rival. (Photo/Supplied)
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Yasir Seaidan brought his MINI JCW Buggy home in third place and maintained the pressure on his rival. (Photo/Supplied)
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Yasir Seaidan brought his MINI JCW Buggy home in third place and maintained the pressure on his rival. (Photo/Supplied)
Updated 01 December 2019

Al-Dossari stakes claim with fourth-fastest Riyadh Rally time

  • Abu Dhabi veteran Al-Balooshi storms through to win motorcycle category

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Yazeed Al-Rajhi ceded eight seconds to French rival Stephane Peterhansel on the third 160 km selective section of the Riyadh Rally, but held on to guide his Toyota Hilux to victory and the outright lead in the Saudi Toyota Desert Rally Championship on Saturday.

Peterhansel and stand-in Portuguese co-pilot Paulo Fuiza won the special in their X-raid Mini JCW Buggy to finish the event just 46 seconds behind the local driver and his Ulster co-driver Michael Orr in what was a useful Dakar Rally shakedown for the 13-time winner of the world’s most challenging off-road rally.

Yasir Seaidan completed the last competitive section through the dunes and sandy wastelands of the Saad National Park 45 seconds behind Al-Rajhi in the second of the Mini JCW Buggies and maintained the pressure on his rival in the championship with the final place on the podium. 

ED Racing’s Essa Al-Dossari enjoyed a strong finish to the event with the fourth-fastest time in his Nissan Navara to secure a similar position in the overall standings.

Czech Miroslav Zapletal rounded off the top five in his Ford F-150 Evo after dropping time to the leading quartet in the last timed section.

Mutair Al-Shammeri brought his Nissan home in a distant sixth place and Faris Al-Moshna Al-Shammeri, Sami and Al-Mashna Al-Shammeri and Khalid Al-Feraihi rounded off the top 10. 

Salman Al-Shammeri finished in 14th overall and won the T2 category for series-production cross-country vehicles by 12 minutes, 37 seconds in his Nissan.

Yousef Al-Suwaidi snatched the runner-up spot from Farhan Al-Muharib with the second-quickest time on the last day.

Yousef Al-Dhaif managed to overhaul Saleh Al-Saif to snatch victory in the NUTV category in his Can-Am. Partnered by French navigator Laurent Lichtleuchter, the Saudi took advantage of serious delays for his rival to pip Majed Al-Tuwaijri to the win.

Khalil Al-Tuwaijri made it a Can-Am 1-2-3 with third place. Shaker Al-Tuwaijri was the sole representative in the official T3 section with his Can-Am.

Abu Dhabi’s Mohammed Al-Balooshi stormed through to win the motorcycle category on his KTM, the experienced veteran of numerous regional and international cross-country events following up his success at the recent Rally Qassim and Jordan Baja with a winning margin of 2 minutes, 11 seconds over his brother Sultan.

Friday’s leader Mishal Alghuneim lost out on the win after opening the road and the Saudi slipped to third place, while the stage win helped Kuwait’s Abdullah Al-Shatti secure fourth. Local rider Hashyan Al-Hashyan and Kiwi Philip Wilson rounded off the top six.

Sufyan Al-Omar claimed the stage win to secure a comfortable success in the quad category.

The Saudi headed a Yamaha 1-2-3 with Abdulrahman Alaglaa and Abdulaziz Al-Shayban filling the other podium places.

Sultan Al-Masoud retired, but pre-event favorite Abdulmajeed Al-Khulaifi recovered from his previous day’s woes to set the second quickest time on the last stage.

The Saudi trio of Ibrahim Al-Muhanna, Osama Al-Sanad and Raed Abo Theeb were running at the rear of the field in their Mercedes truck entered in the T4 category.

The event was 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 ran 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.

Djokovic survives scare as rain causes chaos at Australian Open

Updated 20 January 2020

Djokovic survives scare as rain causes chaos at Australian Open

  • World No. 3 Federer was briefly hauled off court while the roof was closed on Rod Laver Arena

MELBOURNE: Novak Djokovic survived a scare to join Roger Federer and Serena Williams in the Australian Open second round as heavy downpours caused chaos on Monday, forcing organizers to postpone a swathe of matches.

Defending champion Djokovic was made to sweat before beating Germany’s Jan-Lennard Struff in four sets on the first day, when fears over air pollution were replaced by disruption caused by rain.

In the late match, defending champion Djokovic dropped his first set since 2006 in the opening round before recovering to beat Jan-Lennard Struff 7-6 (7/5), 6-2, 2-6, 6-1.

“There is a lot of pressure and a lot of different emotions involved. I definitely try to remind myself to stay present and really enjoy,” said the seven-time Melbourne winner, who brought up his 900th Tour-level victory.

While play continued at the three stadiums with retractable roofs, half of the 64 scheduled matches were postponed, ensuring a big backlog for Tuesday.

Wet conditions are unusual for the Australian Open, which is more used to extreme heat and was plagued by smog from bushfires during qualifying, when players suffered coughing fits and breathing problems.

Air quality was rated “good” as the first round started on Monday but about four hours later play was suspended on outside courts when the heavens opened in Melbourne.

World No. 3 Federer was briefly hauled off court while the roof was closed on Rod Laver Arena before returning to complete a routine 6-3, 6-2, 6-2 victory over American Steve Johnson.

Williams, on the hunt for a record-equalling 24th Grand Slam title, won the first set against Anastasia Potapova in just 19 minutes as she cruised to a 6-0, 6-3 win in less than an hour.

“I feel like I can still improve and get better throughout this tournament, for sure. This is a good stepping stone for right now,” Williams said.

However, Williams’ elder sister Venus was ousted in stunning fashion by 15-year-old Coco Gauff, who won 7-6 (7/5), 6-3 in a repeat of her first-round upset at Wimbledon last year.

Former US Open champion Sloane Stephens was the biggest women’s casualty on day one when she crashed out in three sets to Zhang Shuai of China — her fourth first-round exit in Melbourne.

Defending champion Naomi Osaka was done well before the downpour as she dismissed Marie Bouzkova of the Czech Republic 6-2, 6-4 in 80 minutes, smashing one powerful serve that broke a net fastening.

“It was really tough for me trying to control my nerves,” said Osaka. “It’s tough to play someone you’ve never played before in the first round of a Grand Slam.”

Later on the covered center court, Australian world number one Ashleigh Barty recovered strongly from a set down to beat Lesia Tsurenko 5-7, 6-1, 6-1.

In the men’s draw, Greek sixth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas, who beat Federer en route to last year’s semis, crushed Salvatore Caruso 6-0, 6-2, 6-3.

Player anger over smog dominated the final days before the tournament, which is taking place after bushfires ravaged large parts of Australia, destroying thousands of homes and killing 29 people.

Tournament officials are closely monitoring pollution and will halt play and close the three main stadiums’ roofs if particulate matter suspended in the air hits PM2.5 200.

In other results, Canadian 13th seed Denis Shapovalov argued furiously with the umpire over a code violation for throwing his racquet as he lost in four sets to Marton Fucsovics.

Croatian 25th seed Borna Coric was another first-round loser as he went down to experienced American Sam Querrey, while Australia’s Sam Stosur bombed out against Caty McNally.

But former champion Caroline Wozniacki, playing her last tournament before retiring, safely reached the second round as she beat Kristie Ahn 6-1, 6-3.