The first round of the 2021 FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Rallies starts on Wednesday with the Andalucia Rally and Saudi driver Yazeed Al-Rajhi of the Yazeed Racing team has returned from a neck injury he suffered at the Sharqiya Baja Rally last March.
While Al-Rajhi’s medical team has given him the green light to return to racing after a full year of recovery, co-driver Michael Orr, who suffered injuries in the same accident, is not expected back until the Kazakhstan Rally in June.
So Al-Rajhi will get back behind the wheel alongside German navigator Dirk von Zitzewitz for the Andalucia Rally, which runs through Sunday. Their Toyota Hilux is powered by the Belgian Overdrive Team.
The Saudi motorsport star, who is participating in the FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Rallies for the eighth year in a row, is grateful for his recovery from a race touched by tragedy.
“Accidents are part of racing and drivers cannot predict them so we are very lucky that we both walked away,” Al-Rajhi said.
“I wish a speedy recovery for my colleague and navigator, Michael, who cannot participate with me because he has to complete his treatment sessions, but I expect him to return in the next rally.”
At the Andalusia Rally, Al-Rajhi and von Zitzewitz have an itinerary that includes a timed super special race over eight kilometers on Wednesday before the four-stage, off-road odyssey with a total distance of 1,473 km.
“The time I was recovering gave me a short break to recharge all my mental and physical strength for a new season of the FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Rallies,” Al-Rajhi said. “I am really excited to take up the challenge behind the wheel again.”
As a pair, Al-Rajhi and von Zitzewitz have achieved some strong results in several cross-country rallies since 2019.
“Dirk is back on board with me and we had a great collaboration the last time we were together,” Al-Rajhi said. “So we are looking forward to winning this rally.”
Al-Rajhi and von Zitzewitz won two stages on home soil at the Dakar Rally in January.
“I am very excited to be back alongside Yazeed on the Toyota Hilux,” von Zitzewitz said.
“I am looking forward to a very intense and challenging race, as the competition will be strong at the Andalucía Rally. I am happy and looking forward to a great race.”