Al-Rajhi, Abu Aisheh and Al-Khulaifi grab opening qualifying stage wins at Saudi Baja 2022 in Hail

Al-Rajhi, Abu Aisheh and Al-Khulaifi grab opening qualifying stage wins at Saudi Baja 2022 in Hail
Yazeed Al-Rajhi at the Saudi Baja. (Supplied)
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Updated 11 November 2022

Al-Rajhi, Abu Aisheh and Al-Khulaifi grab opening qualifying stage wins at Saudi Baja 2022 in Hail

Al-Rajhi, Abu Aisheh and Al-Khulaifi grab opening qualifying stage wins at Saudi Baja 2022 in Hail
  • Car, motorbike and quad competitors set for 229km stage on Friday

HAIL: Saudi Arabia’s Yazeed Al-Rajhi, Jordan’s Abdullah Abu Aisheh and Saudi Arabia’s Abdulmajeed Al-Khulaifi topped the car, motorcycle and quad categories after a shortened 3.91-kilometer qualifying stage at the start of the three-day Saudi Baja 2022 in Hail on Thursday.

Al-Rajhi and his German co-driver Dirk von Zitzewitz stopped the clock in 3 minutes, 9.9 seconds to win the day’s stage by 8.8 seconds in their Overdrive Racing Toyota Hilux.

Brazilian driver Cristiano de Sousa Batista and his Portuguese co-driver Fausto Mota came home in second and first in T4, and Al-Rajhi’s Czech title rival Miroslav Zapletal and his Slovakian co-driver Marek Sykora were third. Fourth-placed Fernando Alvarez and Xavier Panseri topped the T3 standings.

Young Jordanian rider Abdullah Abu Aishah topped the times on two wheels with a run of 3:33.0 on his KTM Factory Rally 450. Great Britain’s Alex McInnes and Makis Rees-Stavros were second and third.

Local Yamaha Raptor rider Abdulmajeed Al-Khulaifi beat Abdulaziz Ahli by nine seconds to win the quad stage. He was also faster than the leading motorcyclist in the FIM category.

After the ceremonial start at the Al-Maghawah National Park, competitors tackled a qualifying stage that was reduced from 18 km to just 3.91 km in length. Nineteen FIA cars, 31 motorcycles, four quads and 25 vehicles running in the Saudi National Baja were permitted to start.

Majed Al-Thunayyan and Yahya Ali Abdu were disqualified from the FIA event on the grounds that their cars failed stringent technical specifications. Maha Al-Hameli and Annie Seel also dropped out of the FIA event and moved their Team Black Horse Can-Am into the National Baja.

The seventh round of both the FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Bajas and the FIM Bajas World Cup, round three of the FIA Middle East Cup for Cross-Country Bajas, and the third event in the Saudi Toyota Rally Championship, is being organized by the Saudi Automobile and Motorcycle Federation in conjunction with the Ministry of Sport, and in partnership with Abdul Latif Jameel Motors.

On Friday, competitors will tackle a slightly revised stage of 229.52 km to the west and northwest of Hail, which will be split into two sections of 101.52 km and 128 km by a neutralization link.

The day’s selective section is named after the neighboring city of Jubbah that is situated 90 km northwest of Hail on the old caravan road between Najd and the eastern Mediterranean Sea.




The start of the Saudi Baja. (Supplied)

Saudi Baja 2022-Hail (positions after qualifying stage):

FIA

  1. Yazeed Al-Rajhi (Saudi Arabia)/Dirk von Zitzewitz (Germany) Toyota Hilux Overdrive: 3:09.9
  2. Cristiano de Sousa Batista (Brazil)/Fauto Mota (Portugal) Can-Am Maverick XRS Turbo RR (T4): 3:18.7
  3. Miroslav Zapletal (Czech Republic)/Marek Sykora (Slovakia) Ford F150 Evo: 3:20.5
  4. Fernando Alvarez (Spain)/Xavier Panseri (France) Can-Am Maverick X3 (T3): 3:21.3
  5. Saleh Al-Saif (Saudi Arabia)/Tariq Al-Rammah (Saudi Arabia) Can-Am Maverick X3 (T3): 3:21.5
  6. Egidijus Valeisa (Lithuania)/ Mindaugas Varza (Lithuania) Can-Am Maverick XRS Turbo (T4): 3:26.5
  7. Aliyyah Koloc (UAE)/Stephane Duple (France) Buggyra Can-Am DV21 3:31.4
  8. Hamed Al-Harbi (Saudi Arabia)/Dmytro Tsyro (Ukraine) Can-Am Maverick X3 (T3): 3:34.0
  9. Kees Koolen (Netherlands)/Paolo Ceci (Italy) Can-Am Maverick XRS Turbo (T4): 3:34.1
  10. Meshari Al-Thefiri (Kuwait)/Oriol Vidal (Spain) Can-Am Maverick XRS Turbo RR (T4): 3:34.2

T1 unless stated

FIM Bikes

  1. Abdullah Abu Aishah (Jordan) KTM 450 Factory Rally: 3:33.0
  2. Alex McInnes (Great Britain) Husqvarna FE 450: 3:37.7
  3. Makis Rees-Stavros (Great Britain) KTM EXC F 450: 3:47.0
  4. Mohammed Al-Balooshi (UAE) TM 450: 3:52.6
  5. Salman Mohamed Farhan (Bahrain) Husqvarna FE 450: 3:59.6
  6. Martin Chalmers (Qatar) Honda CRF 450: 4:01.4
  7. Abdullah Al-Shatti (Kuwait) Kawasaki KC 450: 4:09.1
  8. Ehab Ak-Hakeem (Saudi Arabia) Yamaha WR 450F: 4:15.7
  9. Margot Llobera (Spain) KTM EXC 450: 4:21.1
  10. Othman Al-Ghfeli (Saudi Arabia) Honda CRF 450: 4:21.8

FIM Quads

  1. Abdulmajeed Al-Khulaifi (Saudi Arabia) Yamaha Raptor 700: 3:32.7
  2. Abdulaziz Ahli (Saudi Arabia) Yamaha YFZ 450R: 3:41.2
  3. Hani Al-Noumesi (Saudi Arabia) Yamaha Raptor 700: 4:11.4
  4. Haitham Al-Tuwaijri (Saudi Arabia) Yamaha Raptor 700: 5:01.7

Diriyah E-Prix praised by race boss

Diriyah E-Prix praised by race boss
Updated 02 February 2023

Diriyah E-Prix praised by race boss

Diriyah E-Prix praised by race boss
  • Formula E CEO Jamie Reigle: The Diriyah street circuit is a special place for all our drivers, giving them the chance to test their skills and push the technological capacity of the car to the limit
  • Jamie Reigle: From the best racing drivers, to internationally renowned music acts, to a stunning drone show, we are delighted to have successfully delivered a live event of unprecedented scale

RIYADH: Formula E CEO Jamie Reigle has complimented Saudi Arabia on this year’s two-day Diriyah spectacle as the sport goes from strength to strength in the Kingdom.

Reigle said that this season had been a milestone for Formula E as it was the fifth year it had been welcomed to the location by the Ministry of Sport, promoter CBX, the Saudi Automobile and Motorcycle Federation, and the country’s motorsport fans.

He said: “The 2023 CORE Diriyah E-Prix was also the Middle East debut of the Gen3 race car — the fastest, lightest, most powerful, and efficient electric race car ever built.

“The Diriyah street circuit is a special place for all our drivers, giving them the chance to test their skills and push the technological capacity of the car to the limit.”

Reigle added that the races in Diriyah continue to exceed expectations to deliver an incredible sporting spectacle that helps to bring the eyes of the world to Saudi Arabia.

He said: “From the best racing drivers, to internationally renowned music acts, a stunning drone show, and our most spectacular podium to date, we are delighted to have successfully delivered a live event of unprecedented scale in Saudi Arabia.”

Group CEO for Diriyah Gate Development Authority Jerry Inzerillo said: “This is our fifth time. Electric cars in Diriyah, the birthplace of the Kingdom, the house of Al-Saud, were filled with joy. It’s a great triumph for Formula E and for Diriyah.”

He added that Formula E complemented the outlook of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

He said: “The minute you get something great, how do we do better?

“It’s a triumph and a tribute to the crown prince’s vision for Diriyah, for Formula E, and for innovation.

“Whenever you get great, the crown prince will challenge you to be greater.”

Faisal Sultan, vice president and managing director of Lucid Middle East, said: “The atmosphere at the Diriyah E-Prix was incredible, and it was exciting to see our Lucid Air cars on the track as the official course car fleet.

“VIPs, celebrities, guests, and journalists also got a taste of the EV performance with some electric laps around the Diriyah circuit.”

Guillaume Cartier, the chairperson of Nissan in Africa, the Middle East, India, Europe and Oceania, told Arab News: “Formula E is a fantastic platform for us.

“When you look at Nissan in the future, we are betting on the electric vehicle and this technology, so it’s a natural platform to show what we are able to do.

“We have a strategy called track to road, so it’s a way of saying that what we test on the track will be adopted on cars sold to customers.

“When I see the energy, the number of people, it is fabulous. The welcome of the country and the platform is beautiful.”


Riders from 12 nations to tackle opening round of FIA Bajas World Cup in Saudi

Riders from 12 nations to tackle opening round of FIA Bajas World Cup in Saudi
Updated 30 January 2023

Riders from 12 nations to tackle opening round of FIA Bajas World Cup in Saudi

Riders from 12 nations to tackle opening round of FIA Bajas World Cup in Saudi
  • Multi-category event takes place in Hail on Feb. 2-4
  • Mohammed Al-Balooshi of the MX Ride Dubai team heads the field on his TM 450

HAIL: Thirty-one motorcycles, five quads and competitors from 12 nations have entered this weekend’s Saudi Baja-Hail, the opening round of the 2023 FIM Bajas World Cup, in addition to four riders taking part in a national event running behind.

While two-time event winner Mohammed Al-Balooshi of the MX Ride Dubai team heads the field on his TM 450, two other former Hail winners feature on the international entry.

Al-Balooshi’s brother, Sultan, also represents the MX Ride Dubai team and is a two-time former winner of the longer Hail International Rally (2018 and 2019), while Saudi rider Mishal Al-Ghuneim reached the top step of the podium on a Husqvarna in 2021.

There is strength in depth across the entry, with several riders more than capable of challenging for victory, while others will be hopeful of scoring points in the FIM Womens’ and FIM Veterans’ categories.

Young Jordanian rider Abdullah Abu Aishah (KTM) has pushed Al-Balooshi close on several occasions in the past and will be hopeful of starting his FIM challenge in winning style. He finished fifth on the 2022 Saudi Baja last November, behind the triumphant Al-Balooshi, Kuwait’s Abdullah Al-Shatti (Kawasaki), Al-Ghuneim and fellow Saudi Anass Al-Reheyani. All three of those rivals will challenge for top honors again this weekend.

FIM Junior hopeful Alex McInnes is seeded at four and the Briton is more than capable of finishing on the podium, while Qatar-based Australian was sixth last year and will be aiming for a top three finish. Other international riders likely to challenge for top honors are Kiwi Philip Wilson, Australia’s Andrew Houlihan and the British duo of Barry Howe and Brett Hunt.

The neighboring State of Qatar will be represented by Sheikh Mohammed Al-Thani (Gas-Gas), Mohammed Al-Kaabi (KTM), Mahanna Rashid Al-Naimi (Honda) and Abdulrahman Al-Sheeb (KTM). Yaghoob Azadi will ride a Rasen Racing Team Husqvarna in the national category.

Kuwait’s Sarah Khuraibet (Duust Rally Team Husqvarna) and Indian rider Sarah Kashyap (Beta) will decide the outcome of the Womens’ category.

Last year’s quad winner Haitham Al-Tuwaijri faces Saudi rivals Hani Al-Noumesi, Abdulaziz Al-Atawi and Sultan Al-Masoud, as well as the UAE’s Abdulaziz Ahli, to decide the honors on four wheels.

The Baja is being managed by the Saudi Motorsport Company in conjunction with the Saudi Automobile and Motorcycle Federation (SAMF) and the Ministry of Sport. The event is running under the chairmanship of Prince Khalid bin Sultan Al-Abdullah Al-Faisal, the president of the SAMF, and in partnership with Abdul Latif Jameel Motors.


Prince Khaled bin Sultan Al-Faisal outlines 20-year program to build ‘new ecosystem’ for Saudi motorsports

Prince Khaled bin Sultan Al-Faisal outlines 20-year program to build ‘new ecosystem’ for Saudi motorsports
Updated 29 January 2023

Prince Khaled bin Sultan Al-Faisal outlines 20-year program to build ‘new ecosystem’ for Saudi motorsports

Prince Khaled bin Sultan Al-Faisal outlines 20-year program to build ‘new ecosystem’ for Saudi motorsports
  • The president of the Saudi Automobile and Motorcycle Federation was speaking at Formula E’s Diriyah E-Prix double-header

RIYADH: The president of the Saudi Automobile and Motorcycle Federation, Prince Khaled bin Sultan Al-Faisal Al-Saud, has revealed that a long-term vision for building a new ecosystem for the Kingdom’s motorsports will be launched soon.

Prince Khaled spoke during a press conference hosted on the sidelines of the Diriyah E-Prix double-header, which represented rounds two and three of the ninth season of the FIA Formula E World Championship.

“We have in the federation a 20-year program that we are going to launch hopefully soon, as we want to have mechanics, we want to have engineers, we want to bring the know-how to Saudi,” he said. “We want to build cars and, hopefully, we can have engineers and team managers, race drivers. So, hopefully, by 15 years, 20 years from now we can have all of that.”

Prince Khaled added: “Our ambition is not to just host events, we want to inspire, and we want to have a bigger role and engagement with the events.”

The 20-year program aims to propel the Kingdom’s motorsports sector by training and equipping a new generation of Saudi youths to become leaders in the industry. The program also intends to build wider strategic partnerships with many of the major players in motorsports.

“We want to see a Saudi racing team, we want to see a car that is being produced, and now we see partnerships,” Prince Khaled said. “This is our ambition. We want to be more involved and inspire and allow people to showcase themselves in such events.”

He singled out the plan to build a car manufacturing hub in King Abdullah Economic City as a key part of the “complete ecosystem” coming to Saudi Arabia, pointing out that “we are attracting the racing teams that are building rally cars.”

The federation president explained that the first steps of the program revolve around building infrastructure. He highlighted that the Diriyah racetrack is a temporary street circuit and that there is a large project in the pipeline in Qiddiya.

“We want to start building the infrastructure so hopefully, when Qiddiya is completed, we can have at least drivers that are 12, 13, 14 years old that we can put them in single-seaters or motorbikes and, in school, they will give special courses and we will send them to the Formula E management,” Prince Khaled said.

The program aims to empower the future of Saudi motorsports by beginning with the youth. It will create the infrastructure to support not only future race car drivers but also organizers and team principals. This support will start in schools, engaging with students and facilitating training programs across the Kingdom.

“We want to speak to them about aerodynamics and engineering, we are targeting now from the grassroots,” Prince Khaled said.

He also highlighted that the federation launched the Saudi star program last year using electric cars, attracting many children from the ages of five to 12 years. Alongside this, a portable training school is being used. This project started in Jeddah and will later be moved to Riyadh and then the Eastern Province.

Many of the steps that make up the 20-year program are already underway, but the ambitious plan will take time.

“What we are doing now is we have the support from governments and we have been allocated lands in different regions of Saudi Arabia, and we have reached out to sponsors and local companies. We are putting plans and building academies and go-karting tracks for karts and motorbike tracks for the bikes,” Prince Khaled said.

He also highlighted the advances made in Saudi motorsports since the initial Diriyah E-Prix in 2018. He said that, five years ago, the organization of the event relied heavily on assistance from Bahrain, which had been hosting an F1 grand prix for many years, but the race is now 100 percent Saudi-run.

“Our ambition is we want to see a Saudi lady or a Saudi man on top of the podium, or a Saudi racing team or a team principal, that is what we want to do,” Prince Khaled said.

Finally, he outlined that through the dedicated and detailed plan for the future, Saudis that are passionate about the motorsports sector will have the opportunities to progress.

“We are moving there and that is why it is a 20-year program. Hopefully, by 20 years from now, we (will) have a Saudi champion or a Saudi winning team of completely 100 percent racing cars produced in Saudi Arabia. It’s ambitious and hopefully we can see it very soon,” he said.


Victory for Pascal Werhlein and Porsche on day one of Diriyah E-Prix

Pascal Wehrlein of the TAG Heuer Porsche team stormed from ninth to win the first of two races at the Diriyah E-Prix
Pascal Wehrlein of the TAG Heuer Porsche team stormed from ninth to win the first of two races at the Diriyah E-Prix
Updated 28 January 2023

Victory for Pascal Werhlein and Porsche on day one of Diriyah E-Prix

Pascal Wehrlein of the TAG Heuer Porsche team stormed from ninth to win the first of two races at the Diriyah E-Prix
  • Wehrlein looked the quickest on the track as he picked his way through the points-paying positions to the front of the pack

DIRIYAH: Pascal Wehrlein of the TAG Heuer Porsche team stormed from ninth to win the first of two races at the Diriyah E-Prix, with standings leader Jake Dennis of Avalanche Andretti Formula E following home in second after starting in 11th.

Wehrlein looked the quickest on the track as he picked his way through the points-paying positions to the front of the pack.

The move for the lead came on lap 30 at turn 16, with Sam Bird in the Jaguar TCS Racing car unable to hold back Wehrlein’s 99X Electric Gen3.

Both driver and car looked dominant for a second straight race. It was an emotional win for the 28-year-old, who once again credited his team with a monumental amount of work off-track to get things so right on it.

Jake Dennis in the Porsche-powered Avalanche Andretti took the fight all the way to the line with his factory Porsche counterpart from all the way back in 11th on the grid, but he couldn't find a way beyond Wehrlein — who sealed his second Formula E win on his 50th start.

 

 

The result was a reversal of the one-two we saw two weeks ago in the 2023 Hankook Mexico City E-Prix — and both TAG Heuer Porsche and Avalanche Andretti look to have thrown down the challenge to the rest of the field as the GEN3 development race continues at pace.

Sam Bird was overjoyed to make the podium for the first time since winning in New York City in Season 7 — calling it a "mini victory" for himself and Jaguar after a tough Season 8 for the Brit — the only season he has failed to claim Formula E silverware.

Sebastian Buemi started in pole position and finished in fourth, his best finish since the Season 6 finale in Berlin.

NEOM McLaren Formula E Team’s René Rast started fifth and ended fifth following a long battle in middle of the points-paying positions. He also sealed the TAG Heuer Fastest Lap.

Nick Cassidy made it two Envision Racing cars in the top six. Jean-Éric Vergne fought from 12th to the points for DS PENSKE, winding up just ahead of Jake Hughes in the sister McLaren. André Lotterer and Mitch Evans rounded out the top 10 - the latter slipping from sixth on the grid.

That leaves Dennis as standings leader at just a point over Werhlein — 44 to 43 points — while Avalanche Andretti retain their Teams' advantage over TAG Heuer Porsche, 58 to 49 points, with Envision Racing third.

Formula E’s return to Diriyah, a historical and cultural destination in Saudi Arabia, marks a groundbreaking move as it continues to prioritise sustainability and shift the paradigm in the sports industry.


Second edition of Rally Jameel set to start in AlUla

Second edition of Rally Jameel set to start in AlUla
Updated 27 January 2023

Second edition of Rally Jameel set to start in AlUla

Second edition of Rally Jameel set to start in AlUla
  • More than 50 all-female teams will rally for five days using skill, determination and grit

JEDDAH: On Tuesday, March 7, the second edition of Rally Jameel will kick off with the tech inspection and registration at AlUla. 

Fifty teams will take part in the off-road rally in Saudi Arabia — the first all-women off-road navigation rally.

With a 1,600 km route that starts in AlUla and ends in Qassim via Hail, the rally is focused on testing navigation and skills on a route that varies between 300 to 500 km per day over the course of five days. The route will feature checkpoints and navigation through heritage sites, with exciting details to unfold.

The endurance competition is based on precision driving and navigating — not the fastest speed — using maps, compasses, roadbooks, and strategy.

This year, teams hail from 11 countries. Each team consists of a driver, navigator, and their vehicle, with no support crews allowed.

The rally is being held under the patronage of Princess Reema bint Bandar, the Kingdom’s ambassador to the US, and under the umbrella of the Saudi Automobile and Motorcycle Federation with recognition from the FIA Women in Motorsport Committee.

A press conference held on Wednesday at Hussain Jameel Hall was attended by Munir Khoja, managing director of marketing communication at Abdul Latif Jameel Motors, Abdullah Bakhashab, organizer of Rally Jameel, and other event participants.

Khoja told Arab News that this year’s edition is going to be different in terms of distance and days.

“Our valued proposition at Abdul Latif Jameel is ‘Take on Tomorrow,’ which means tomorrow will not happen if you don’t begin,” Khoja said. “We prepared a platform for all women to begin and that’s what Rally Jameel achieved in its first edition, when we had new female drivers who had never before engaged in any races, and as a result we have witnessed more than four participants (turn) professional … and took part in various local and regional rallies. So, this is what Rally Jameel is all about.”

He said Rally Jameel aims to encourage more women to get involved in motorsport and rallying, and recognizes that a modern nation must encourage and empower all members of society in all forms, including sport.

Bakhashab told Arab News: “The second edition of Rally Jameel coincides with International Women’s Day, which affirms our commitment to empowering women and honing the potential of the next generation of leaders and athletes. 

“This year’s track will be extended to 1,600 km, crossing AlUla, Hail and Qassim. The first day of the event on March 7 will cover team registrations, followed by the AlUla stage on March 8, with participants moving on to the AlUla-Hail stage on March 9, followed by Hail-Hail on March 10, and finally to Hail-Qassim on March 11.”

In her message via video from Washington, Princess Reema praised organizers for offering the participants an opportunity to demonstrate their determination and skill.

During the press conference, Saudi driver Maha Al-Hamly, who finished third in last year’s Rally Jameel, shared her success story and described it as a turning point of her life.

The first edition of Rally Jameel was designed to follow road and off-road routes that started from Hail to Qassim and on to Riyadh for over three days and 1,000 km. With over 34 teams from 15 countries, several well-known rally racers and motorsports champions were involved, alongside emerging entrants who had their first motorsports experience.

Since 1997, Abdul Latif Jameel Motors has been committed to creating opportunities and bolstering Saudi Arabia’s motorsports scene. Offering a world-class sporting event, Rally Jameel is the perfect opportunity for adventurous women with a passion for motorsports and off-roading.