Hail Nissan rally to kick start Saudi off-road season

Hail Nissan rally to kick start Saudi off-road season
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The Saudi Automobile and Motorcycle Federation is putting the final touches together for the 15th Hail Nissan Rally. (Supplied)
Hail Nissan rally to kick start Saudi off-road season
2 / 2
The Saudi Automobile and Motorcycle Federation is putting the final touches together for the 15th Hail Nissan Rally. (Supplied)
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Updated 31 January 2020

Hail Nissan rally to kick start Saudi off-road season

Hail Nissan rally to kick start Saudi off-road season
  • Hail rally has been a major tourism money-spinner and the Kingdom’s longest-running FIA-sanctioned event
  • This year’s calendar opener in the Kingdom’s northern desert will be observed for possible inclusion in the 2021 FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Rallies

HAIL: Last-minute preparations are underway for the 15th Hail Nissan Rally, the opening round of the 2020 Saudi Desert Rally Championship.
The Saudi Automobile and Motorcycle Federation is putting the final touches together for the Feb. 4-8 event, which follows the Kingdom’s recent first-time hosting of the Dakar Rally.
Since its approval by the Paris-based International Automobile Federation (FIA) in 2008, the Hail rally has been a major tourism money-spinner and the Kingdom’s longest-running FIA-sanctioned event.
This year’s calendar opener in the Kingdom’s northern desert will be observed for possible inclusion in the 2021 FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Rallies. It runs under the chairmanship of Prince Khalid bin Sultan Al-Abdullah Al-Faisal and the supervision of Lebanon’s Ziad Jamous.
Scrutineering will take place at the technical college in Hail and administration checks will be carried out at the nearby Millennium Hotel on Feb. 3. The official pre-event press conference takes center stage on Tuesday.
Competitors will tackle four sections through the nearby An Nafud desert from Wednesday through to the final stage and ceremonial finish on Saturday.
The winner of the inaugural event in 2006 was Farhan Ghuleb Al-Shammeri when the Hail Rally ran as a club event for the first time. Rajeh Al-Shammeri won the following year when it ran as an FIA candidate, and Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah triumphed in 2008 — the year the event was included in the FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Bajas.
Since then, Yazeed Al-Rajhi has claimed five wins with Essa Al-Dossari winning the last two events in the car category with his Nissan Navara.
Motorcycles were allowed to compete in 2013 with Khalid Al-Falaisi winning on a Honda. Ahmed Al-Nasser then secured a hat-trick of wins before the UAE’s Sultan Al-Balooshi prevailed on a KTM in 2018 and 2019.
Atif Al-Zarouni was the first quad category winner in 2013, but the section has since been dominated by Abdulmajeed Al-Khulaifi with six successive victories. Saudi driver Talal Al-Thukair is the defending ATV champion in a Can-Am and Ibrahim Al-Muhanna won the truck section when T4 vehicles were permitted for the first time in 2019.
This year’s event will be held under the supervision of the Hail Regional Development Authority in co-operation with the General Authority for Tourism and National Heritage and the General Authority for Sport. It runs under the patronage of Gov. of Hail Prince Abdul Aziz Bin Saud and Faisal Bin Fahed Bin Moqren.