Saudi driver Al-Rajhi, new World Champion Walkner chase first wins in Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge

Saudi driver Al-Rajhi, new World Champion Walkner chase first wins in Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge
1 / 3
Yazeed Al-Rajhi combined with Michael Orr to win the Dubai International Baja in February. (Wikimedia Commons)
Saudi driver Al-Rajhi, new World Champion Walkner chase first wins in Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge
2 / 3
New FIM world bikes champion Matthias Walkner pursues his first Desert Challenge win. (Supplied)
Saudi driver Al-Rajhi, new World Champion Walkner chase first wins in Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge
3 / 3
Poland’s Jakub Przygonski chases a cars victory with German co-driver Timo Gottschalk. (Supplied)
Short Url
Updated 02 November 2021

Saudi driver Al-Rajhi, new World Champion Walkner chase first wins in Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge

Saudi driver Al-Rajhi, new World Champion Walkner chase first wins in Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge
  • Partnered by British co-driver Michael Orr in a Toyota Hilux Overdrive, Al-Rajhi is aiming for a second triumph in the UAE this year
  • Austrian KTM star Walkner, who secured this year’s FIM Cross-Country Rallies World Championship with second place in Morocco last month, hopes to go one better

ABU DHABI: Saudi Arabia’s top driver Yazeed Al-Rajhi and new FIM world bikes champion Matthias Walkner have both set their sights on a maiden victory in the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge when the event marks its 30th anniversary next week.

Partnered by British co-driver Michael Orr in a Toyota Hilux Overdrive, Al-Rajhi is aiming for a second triumph in the UAE this year after the pair combined to win the Dubai International Baja back in February.

Austrian KTM star Walkner, who secured this year’s FIM Cross-Country Rallies World Championship with second place in Morocco last month, hopes to go one better as the 2021 series reaches its conclusion in the UAE.

The Emirates Motorsports Organization today announced the international entry list for the 2021 Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge, which gets under way in the UAE capital next Saturday with the drivers’ title in the FIA World Cup for Cross Country Rallies hanging in the balance.

Qatar’s Nasser Al-Attiyah (61pts), who pursues a third Desert Challenge success, will be up against his three remaining title rivals in Al-Rajhi (44pts), Argentinian Lucio Alvarez (42pts) and Russian Denis Krotov (37.5pts) in the penultimate World Cup round.

Al Attiyah, accompanied by Mathieu Baumel in a Toyota Hilux, could also come under pressure from Poland’s 2018 World Cup drivers’ champion, Jakub Przygonski, in a MINI John Cooper Works Buggy.

Over the years, Yahya Al-Helei has often out performed some of the world’s top drivers in his home event, and the Emirati, remarkably, starts his 30th consecutive Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge alongside Khalid Al Kendi in a Nissan Pick up.

With the final World Cup round remaining in Saudi Arabia next month, two other FIA titles will be in the balance during Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge, and rally founder Mohammed Ben Sulayem anticipates another fiercely competitive five days of action on the Al Dhafra desert stages.

“There is always a lot at stake in this event, and the fact that we’ve reached our 30th edition adds to the appeal of the rally,” said Ben Sulayem, President of the Emirates Motorsports Organization and FIA Vice President for Sport. “It’s a memorable occasion for everyone taking part, from the top competitors to the many volunteers who help to make it happen.”

Spain’s Cristina Gutierrez, who leads the FIA T3 title battle in an Overdrive OT3, can expect pressure from her three closest challengers, compatriot Fernando Alvarez, Russian Pavel Lebedev and another Spaniard, Jose Luis Pena Campo.

It’s a similar story in the FIA T4 category, with World Cup leader Austin Jones from the US looking to fight off Dutchman Kees Koolen, Italy’s Eugenio Amos and Poland’s Aron Domzala, the top four all at the wheel of CAN-AM Mavericks.

Ross Branch, the rider from Botswana who won this year’s FIM World Championship opening round in Kazakhstan, joins fellow Yamaha stars Andrew Short and Adrien Van Beveren in trying to prevent a 22nd KTM bikes triumph in the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge.

Among the leading Arab riders relishing another chance to rival the top factory team stars are the UAE’s Mohammed Al Balooshi, winner of the 2018 FIM Bajas World Cup who has just finished fourth this year, Kuwait’s Shatti Abdullah and Saudi’s Alghuneim Mishal.

Italian Carlo Cabini starts the event on a Honda leading both the FIM Rally 2 Group 1 standings as well as the Adventure Trophy category for riders competing without any assistance.

Meanwhile, Poland’s multiple world quads champion Rafal Sonik must fight off Argentina’s Manuel Andujar, his big rival in this year’s FIM title race, if he is to record a third Desert Challenge victory.

Competing in the event for the first time in the FIM SSV category are two Israeli crews, Roy Bartov alongside Guy Roy, and Tal and David Galimidi, in a pair of Can-Am Maverick X3s.


Jabeur beats Kawa to reach Wimbledon 3rd round

Jabeur beats Kawa to reach Wimbledon 3rd round
Updated 29 June 2022

Jabeur beats Kawa to reach Wimbledon 3rd round

Jabeur beats Kawa to reach Wimbledon 3rd round
  • The Tunisian, 27, who won the Berlin grass-court title earlier this month, broke twice in the first set before steamrollering her opponent in the second

LONDON: Third seed Ons Jabeur eased through to the third round of Wimbledon on Wednesday, beating Polish qualifier Katarzyna Kawa 6-4, 6-0.
The Tunisian, 27, who won the Berlin grass-court title earlier this month, broke twice in the first set before steamrollering her opponent in the second.
Jabeur will play unseeded Frenchwoman Diane Parry, who beat Japanese qualifier Mai Hontama, in the last 32.


Qatar says World Cup fans seeking rooms have ‘a lot of options’

Qatar says World Cup fans seeking rooms have ‘a lot of options’
Updated 29 June 2022

Qatar says World Cup fans seeking rooms have ‘a lot of options’

Qatar says World Cup fans seeking rooms have ‘a lot of options’
  • Prices for accommodation range from 300 Qatari rials to several thousand dollars per night

DOHA: Qatar said on Tuesday that World Cup fans have “a lot of options” with more than 100,000 rooms currently available and tens of thousands more expected by the tournament’s kickoff.
Some football supporters have expressed concern that they have been unable to find accommodation in line with their budget for the World Cup, which runs from November 21 to December 18.
Prices range from 300 Qatari rials (just over $80) to several thousand dollars per night.
Qatar has so far taken more than 25,000 bookings, said Omar Al-Jaber, the official in charge of accommodation for the tournament’s organizing committee, specifying that he was taking about “bookings, not rooms or nights.”
“If you go through our website, you will find a lot of options,” he told reporters on a tour of an available apartment in Doha.
“And if you don’t find it today, you need to check tomorrow or after tomorrow... because... we add more inventory to this portal.
“More than 100,000 rooms (are) available as of today,” he said. “If we go to November, maybe we’ll reach more than 130,000 rooms or 140,000 rooms.”
Supporters normally find accommodation themselves for such tournaments.
But Qatar — set to host the most geographically concentrated World Cup in history and with limited hotel capacity — is seeking to channel supporters through an official platform that is reserved for ticket holders and managed by the tournament’s organizers.
Eighty-five percent of accommodation — whether permanent or temporary — is now complete and the remainder will be finished by a “deadline” of end-August, according to Jaber.
The country will be closed to visitors without match tickets during the course of the tournament, Jaber said.
As of Tuesday, the US, Mexico, United Kingdom, Argentina and India accounted for some of the biggest sources of reservations.


New European soccer clubs’ group gives voice to less wealthy

New European soccer clubs’ group gives voice to less wealthy
Updated 29 June 2022

New European soccer clubs’ group gives voice to less wealthy

New European soccer clubs’ group gives voice to less wealthy
  • The Union of European Clubs is being created after an intense 18 months of debate and decisions on reforming UEFA competitions
  • The UEC shapes as an alternative to the European Club Association that has key influence with UEFA

GENEVA: A new group for European clubs feeling isolated in soccer politics dominated by wealthy rivals was announced Wednesday.
The Union of European Clubs is being created after an intense 18 months of debate and decisions on reforming UEFA competitions like the Champions League plus the failed Super League project that rocked the industry.
“It will be a game-changer,” law academic Katarina Pijetlovic said, revealing the new association at the Play The Game sports integrity conference in Odense, Denmark.
Set up to represent community-driven and middle- to lower-ranked clubs, the UEC shapes as an alternative to the European Club Association that has key influence with UEFA.
The goals of so-called middle-class clubs were aired by Eintracht Frankfurt leaders during the German club’s push to win the Europa League in May as UEFA finalized post-2024 revamps of club competition formats and entry paths. An unfinished debate is how to share out billions of euros (dollars) in broadcast and sponsor money among clubs across Europe.
“It is the organization that aims to gather all the clubs that for one or another reasons feel their interests are not adequately represented at European level by ECA, or that they are not represented at all,” Pijetlovic said.
The ECA has about 250 full and associate members who qualified for recent UEFA competitions but has typically been controlled by a select few storied clubs.
A group of 12 of the ECA’s then-leaders last year plotted the Super League as a direct rival to UEFA and the Champions League.
Though the breakaway collapsed within days — amid a fierce backlash from fans, governments and soccer pundits — the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg has a July 11-12 hearing that will challenge UEFA’s authority. That case is being driven by Real Madrid, Barcelona and Juventus.
“Just because clubs are richer it shouldn’t give them more say in governance,” Pijetlovic said Wednesday.
Officials involved in the new union have spoken to about 100 potential member clubs in all levels of European soccer leagues, said Pijetlovic, a lecturer at Manchester Metropolitan University in England.
Its aims include helping clubs and leagues be more professionally run and improve sporting and financial competitiveness, she said.


NEOM’S ENOWA boosting Extreme E with green hydrogen power

NEOM’S ENOWA boosting Extreme E with green hydrogen power
Updated 29 June 2022

NEOM’S ENOWA boosting Extreme E with green hydrogen power

NEOM’S ENOWA boosting Extreme E with green hydrogen power
  • Partnership comes after megacity named title partner of McLaren Formula E, Extreme E racing teams
  • Saudi Arabia has hosted the Extreme E season-opening Desert X Prix for the last two years

Extreme E has announced a multi-year relationship with ENOWA, NEOM’s energy, water and hydrogen subsidiary, to introduce green hydrogen power to the sustainable all-electric racing series.

Saudi Arabia has hosted the Extreme E season-opening Desert X Prix for the last two years.

The announcement comes just days after NEOM, a sustainable region in northwest Saudi Arabia being built from the ground up, was revealed as the title partner of the McLaren Formula E and Extreme E racing teams under the banner of “NEOM McLaren Electric Racing.”

Alejandro Agag, founder and CEO of Extreme E, said: “We are delighted to have ENOWA on board as our official Green Hydrogen Power Partner. We have collaborated with NEOM for some time, particularly in delivering a hugely successful first Desert X Prix of Season Two; this partnership with ENOWA marks a further step in our mission for a more sustainable future.

“The work undertaken by ENOWA is extremely ambitious and an exciting prospect. NEOM, much like ourselves, pushes the boundaries of environmental sustainability and we are delighted to be partnering with ENOWA to go even further in our objective to raise awareness of the climate crisis.

“ENOWA plans to lead the development of world-class sustainable energy water and hydrogen systems which I am sure will become a reference point in the future, and our series will also benefit from this greater focus on technology and innovation.”

Extreme E has become a leader in introducing sustainability in motorsports and green hydrogen is widely seen as the most promising energy carrier for the future in the fight against climate change. The technology supports the transportation of renewable energy over long distances and could spur the decarbonization of major industries and infrastructure.

By partnering, Extreme E and ENOWA aim to implement innovative green hydrogen-based technologies to not only power the championship toward a 100 percent “leave no trace” ambition, but also to showcase the opportunities offered by the technology.

ENOWA will play an active part on the scientific advisory board of Extreme E and together the partners will look to develop educational programs covering climate positive solutions aimed at younger generations.

Commenting on the relationship, Peter Terium, ENOWA CEO, said: “Business decisions in NEOM have sustainability at their core, which is why we are delighted to partner with Extreme E. Our partnership is aimed toward both creating visibility to the most urgent problems the planet is facing, but at the same time demonstrating solutions that deliver meaningful impact.

“Together we can accelerate innovations in clean technologies powered by green hydrogen, contributing to hydrogen mobility markets and the future of global decarbonization.”

NEOM is the first to produce green hydrogen at scale, paving the way for the growth of the hydrogen economy globally. Due to the abundance of solar, wind and water resources in NEOM, ENOWA and partners will provide large quantities of green hydrogen that many industries can use. ENOWA benefits from NEOM’s greenfield site — which has no legacy infrastructure — to advance energy, water, and hydrogen innovation while providing sustainable fuels like green hydrogen to international users. It shares an ethos with Extreme E in its demands for a greater sustainability focus.

At the Season Two opener of Extreme E in NEOM in February 2022, the series revealed its plans to launch an off-road hydrogen championship in 2024. Named Extreme H, the championship will sit alongside Extreme E, its existing electric racing series, and will be a world first for motorsport — further reiterating the commitment to showcasing the possibilities of new, sustainable technologies in the race to fight climate change.

Development for the Extreme H vehicle is already underway, with the aim being the launch of a prototype in early 2023.


Last World Cup tickets to go on sale next week: FIFA

Last World Cup tickets to go on sale next week: FIFA
Updated 29 June 2022

Last World Cup tickets to go on sale next week: FIFA

Last World Cup tickets to go on sale next week: FIFA
  • About 1.8 million tickets sold so far
  • Tickets to go on sale online from July 5 until August 16

DOHA: The remaining tickets for this year’s World Cup in Qatar will be available on a first-come, first-served basis from next week, FIFA said on Wednesday.
About 1.8 million tickets were sold in the first two batches of sales, FIFA said, without saying how many are now available.
Qatar will host the first World Cup in the Middle East from November 21 to December 18 at eight stadiums in and around the capital, Doha.
The latest tickets will go on sale online from July 5 at 12pm Doha time (0900 GMT) until 12pm on August 16, FIFA said in a press release.
“Huge worldwide interest is anticipated in the new sales period,” the world body said.
Officials said three million tickets are available in total, including those allocated to sponsors.
Last week, the World Cup’s chief organizer Hassan Al-Thawadi said 1.2 million tickets had been sold so far.
FIFA president Gianni Infantino said there were five million ticket requests just for the final at the 80,000-seat Lusail stadium.
Doha, with a population of about 2.4 million and limited accommodation, is bracing itself for a huge influx of visitors for the 32-team tournament.
Last month, Qatar announced scores of daily shuttle flights from neighboring Gulf countries, allowing fans to stay elsewhere and fly in to watch games.