50 racers assemble for Hill Climb leg of the 2023 Saudi Toyota Championship

50 racers assemble for Hill Climb leg of the 2023 Saudi Toyota Championship
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This year marks the sixth staging of the Hill Climb event in Al-Baha. (SAMF)
50 racers assemble for Hill Climb leg of the 2023 Saudi Toyota Championship
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This year marks the sixth staging of the Hill Climb event in Al-Baha. (SAMF)
50 racers assemble for Hill Climb leg of the 2023 Saudi Toyota Championship
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This year marks the sixth staging of the Hill Climb event in Al-Baha. (SAMF)
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Updated 15 July 2023
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50 racers assemble for Hill Climb leg of the 2023 Saudi Toyota Championship

50 racers assemble for Hill Climb leg of the 2023 Saudi Toyota Championship
  • They will face a challenging 3km track at Prince Mishari bin Saud Park in Al-Baha that has 29 turns, begins on a plateau and climbs to an altitude of 340 meters
  • The opening day of the two-day event included participant registration, technical checks of the vehicles, a reconnaissance round for the drivers and free-practice sessions.

AL-BAHA: Fifty competitors, male and female, from Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, Morocco, Pakistan and Spain gathered on Friday at Prince Mishari bin Saud Park in Al-Baha region for Hill Climb leg of the 2023 Saudi Toyota Championship.

They will face a challenging 3 kilometer track with about 29 turns which begins on a plateau and climbs to a finishing line at an altitude of 340 meters.

The opening day of the two-day event included participant registration, technical checks of the vehicles, a reconnaissance round for the drivers and free-practice sessions.

This year marks the sixth staging of the Hill Climb event in Al-Baha. Originally a standalone race, it has grown in popularity and is now part of the official Saudi Toyota Championship. The stakes for the event are higher this year, with bigger prizes on offer. The winner will drive home in a GR86 MT car and claim a share of total cash prize pool of SR50,000 ($13,300).

The event is organized by the Saudi Automobile and Motorcycle Federation in collaboration with the Ministry of Sport, and the Emirate of Al-Baha Province. Abdul Latif Jameel Co. is an official partner, and the Saudi Investment Bank a strategic sponsor.

 


Jaguar’s Mitch Evans optimistic of form return at Sao Paulo E-Prix

Jaguar’s Mitch Evans optimistic of form return at Sao Paulo E-Prix
Updated 29 February 2024
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Jaguar’s Mitch Evans optimistic of form return at Sao Paulo E-Prix

Jaguar’s Mitch Evans optimistic of form return at Sao Paulo E-Prix
  • The New Zealand driver has been frustrated with his start to the Formula E season

DUBAI: Formula E driver Mitch Evans admits he has been frustrated with his performances this season but is optimistic he can bounce back, beginning with next month’s Sao Paulo E-Prix.

The Jaguar driver has yet to achieve a podium finish after ending fifth in the season opener in Mexico before matching the result in January’s Diriyah E-Prix. The New Zealander closed the Diriyah E-Prix doubleheader weekend with a disappointing 10th, leaving him fifth in the standings and 36 points behind leader and teammate Nick Cassidy.

“It is frustrating and am disappointed to how the season has started as I felt we had one of the quickest cars on average,” said the 29-year-old. “I have just not been able to convert it into a decent result. My best shot was in the first race in Diriyah but we didn’t execute the race properly.

“We still got some good points on the board but I walked away from Saudi that we left some good opportunities from my side of the garage. It’s still early days but it seems we still have the pace which is one of the main things.

“But I do need to ramp up big points and that is the focus. I’m still feeling very optimistic of having a good run in the next phase of the season.”

Evans is disappointed that he has not contributed more to the team’s points tally unlike teammate Cassidy who has enjoyed three podium finishes including his triumph in Diriyah’s round three.

He said: “What the most frustrating this is that we could be one-two in the championship and we’re not. Nick has done a great job in the first three races and has settled nicely into the team. He has transitioned into the team really well so Nick has driven really well in this Gen3 car and not overly surprised. We are leading the teams’ constructors which is good but I feel we could be one, two or three in the championship and that is the most frustrating.

“He’s had a great start and picked up a lot of good points total and he is going to be really competitive and quick. I just need to make some better results on the board.”


Red Bull F1 boss Horner cleared of inappropriate behavior

Red Bull F1 boss Horner cleared of inappropriate behavior
Updated 28 February 2024
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Red Bull F1 boss Horner cleared of inappropriate behavior

Red Bull F1 boss Horner cleared of inappropriate behavior
  • A statement from Austrian energy drinks brand Red Bull, the parent company of the world champion Formula One team, said the “grievance has been dismissed”
  • The complainant has a right of appeal

LONDON: Red Bull team chief Christian Horner was cleared Wednesday of wrongdoing following an investigation into complaints of inappropriate behavior against him made by a female team member.
A statement from Austrian energy drinks brand Red Bull, the parent company of the world champion Formula One team, said the “grievance has been dismissed.”
Horner, who has been team principal since 2005, denied the allegations made against him and was subjected to a lengthy interview by an independent London lawyer acting as investigator, who submitted a report to Red Bull.
The lawyer’s report was delivered on Tuesday and has been considered by Red Bull directors.
In a statement, Red Bull GmbH said: “The independent investigation into the allegations made against Mr.Horner is complete and Red Bull can confirm that the grievance has been dismissed.
“The complainant has a right of appeal. Red Bull is confident that the investigation has been fair, rigorous and impartial.
“The investigation report is confidential and contains the private information of the parties and third parties who assisted in the investigation and therefore we will not be commenting further out of respect for all concerned.
“Red Bull will continue striving to meet the highest workplace standards.”
Horner flew to Bahrain from London on Wednesday, but was not present at the circuit for a media day ahead of the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix this weekend.
He is expected to be on the pit wall for the opening practice sessions on Thursday.
Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf reported the allegation of “inappropriate behavior” by a female member of staff for the British-based team earlier this month.
Asked about the accusations, Horner, 50, told De Telegraaf: “I completely deny these claims.”
Formula One chiefs had said they wanted the issue resolved at the “earliest opportunity.”
Mercedes team chief Toto Wolff described the investigation as “an issue for all of Formula One” and called for transparency.
Under Horner’s guidance, Red Bull have become the dominant force in Formula One, with Max Verstappen winning the past three drivers’ titles.
Horner, who is married to former Spice Girl Geri Halliwell, has been in charge of the team since they entered Formula One 19 years ago.
During that time he has overseen seven drivers’ world championships and six constructors’ titles.
Red Bull dominated the 2023 season, winning 21 of the 22 races as Verstappen defended his drivers’ crown.


Investigation into Red Bull boss overshadows new F1 season as Verstappen aims for fourth title

Investigation into Red Bull boss overshadows new F1 season as Verstappen aims for fourth title
Updated 27 February 2024
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Investigation into Red Bull boss overshadows new F1 season as Verstappen aims for fourth title

Investigation into Red Bull boss overshadows new F1 season as Verstappen aims for fourth title
  • The team’s parent company is facing calls from senior F1 figures such as Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff and McLaren counterpart Zak Brown for the investigation — conducted by an external lawyer — to be handled transparently
  • On the track, Red Bull again seems to be the team to beat after a season in which Verstappen and Perez won all but one race

MANAMA: A still-unresolved investigation into the boss of Formula 1’s champion team is overshadowing the start of the new season this week at the Bahrain Grand Prix.

It’s been three weeks since Red Bull team principal Christian Horner was confirmed to be under investigation over alleged misconduct toward a team employee. No timeline has been given for a decision on his future.

The team’s parent company is facing calls from senior F1 figures such as Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff and McLaren counterpart Zak Brown for the investigation — conducted by an external lawyer — to be handled transparently.

In a letter to the team, Ford Motor Co. CEO Jim Farley insisted on a resolution and said Ford was “frustrated by the lack of full transparency surrounding this matter.” Ford is set to become Red Bull’s engine supplier in 2026.

The Red Bull drinks company said on Feb. 5 it was investigating Horner but didn’t give any details. Horner denies any wrongdoing and has not been suspended from his role. He has continued to be the face of the F1 team, declaring “business as normal.”

Horner has led Red Bull since its 2005 debut in F1, and had a prominent role at the team’s car launch — far more visible than three-time defending champion driver Max Verstappen or his teammate Sergio Perez. Horner was on site for three days of preseason testing in Bahrain last week.

“For everyone, it’s nice, of course, when things are resolved,” Verstappen said Friday at testing.

On the track, Red Bull again seems to be the team to beat after a season in which Verstappen and Perez won all but one race. Verstappen finished with a record 19 wins. While most teams seem to have used the 2023 Red Bull as inspiration for their new cars, Red Bull has evolved, using a slim sidepod design that Mercedes previously tried with little success.

Red Bull was strong throughout the three days of testing, though Ferrari drivers Carlos Sainz Jr. and Charles Leclerc posted the fastest times on the second and third days. Times set in testing are generally considered a poor guide for racing.

HAMILTON’S SWITCH

Seven-time champion Lewis Hamilton is going into his last season with Mercedes ahead of joining Ferrari next year.

For the 39-year-old Hamilton, there’s the hope that Ferrari allow him to fight for an eighth title after Mercedes was uncompetitive in the last two years. It’s also making a childhood dream come true. At testing in Bahrain, Hamilton reminisced about driving Michael Schumacher’s Ferrari in a video game as a child.

“We’ve had an absolutely incredible journey together, we’ve created history within the sport, and I’m very proud of what we’ve achieved,” Hamilton said of his time with Mercedes. “I’m writing my story and I felt like it was time to start a new chapter.”

The sudden announcement shook up F1 and leaves some leading drivers unsure of their places for next year. Sainz was expecting a contract extension at Ferrari but is making way for Hamilton to partner Leclerc.

The open seat at Mercedes has fueled speculation about drivers ranging from 41-year-old two-time champion Fernando Alonso, still at Aston Martin, to the 17-year-old Mercedes junior driver Kimi Antonelli, who is making his Formula 2 debut this week.

ANDRETTI’S FIGHT

Michael Andretti and General Motors are still developing a car for F1 but they don’t have a spot on the grid yet.

The governing body, the FIA, has approved Andretti’s application to become the 11th team but F1 rejected the proposed US team for 2025 and 2026, arguing it would not be competitive — something Andretti and GM dispute.

In GM and its Cadillac brand, Andretti has the backing of one of the world’s leading auto manufacturers, and GM has applied to be an F1 engine supplier from 2028. “Our joint teams are continuing to develop our car at pace,” GM Racing director Jim Campbell said this month.

The series’ existing American team, Haas, looks to be headed for a difficult season, its first since Guenther Steiner — a star of the “Drive To Survive” series on Netflix — was dropped as team principal last month. Haas drivers Kevin Magnussen and Nico Hulkenberg were consistently among the slowest over the three days of testing.

SATURDAY START

Don’t tune in on a Sunday to watch the race. The Bahrain GP and the following week’s race in Saudi Arabia are being held on Saturday, with qualifying on Friday.

That’s because the Muslim holy month of Ramadan starts on March 10, the Sunday of the race week in Saudi Arabia, and that race was moved forward a day. F1 rules stipulate there has to be a week between races, so the Bahrain Grand Prix had to move up, too.

Last year’s race in Las Vegas set a precedent when it was held on a Saturday to maximize the audience in the US and around the world. That was the first F1 race held on a day other than Sunday since 1985.


108 drivers gearing up for all-female 2024 Rally Jameel

108 drivers gearing up for all-female 2024 Rally Jameel
Updated 26 February 2024
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108 drivers gearing up for all-female 2024 Rally Jameel

108 drivers gearing up for all-female 2024 Rally Jameel
  • Participants from 38 countries will tackle a new route in the contest’s third edition between March 4-8

JEDDAH: The stage is set for Saudi Arabia’s all-female Rally Jameel, with 108 competitors from 38 countries poised to take on a challenging new route for the race’s third edition.

This year’s edition, themed “She Shifts the World,” begins in Hail on March 4 and concludes at King Abdullah Economic City on International Women’s Day, March 8.

The all-women’s off-road navigation rally includes five stages and covers 1,600 km of Saudi Arabia’s off-road terrain.

The 2024 Rally Jameel will traverse Hail, AlUla, Umluj, Yanbu, and KAEC in Rabigh.

The endurance competition is based more on precision driving and navigating than speed, with drivers having to utilize maps, compasses and roadbooks.

The event is supported by the FIA’s Women in Motorsport and the Saudi Automobile and Motorcycle Federation.

Munir Khoja, managing director, marketing communications at Abdul Latif Jameel Motors, said: “As we gear up for the third edition, we are deeply encouraged by the growing interest from participants, particularly on an international scale, with a remarkable increase in global participation from 38 countries, compared to 15 in the inaugural edition of the rally.”

“This enthusiasm underscores our commitment to support Saudi Arabia’s vision for empowering women,” he added. “With the addition of new and more challenging routes, we continue to champion and contribute to the advancement of motorsport regionally and globally, representing the core values of Rally Jameel. We extend our gratitude to all our partners, organizers, and sponsors for making this event a reality.”


International drivers from Saudi Arabia, Iran, US, rev up for Pakistan Cholistan Desert Rally

International drivers from Saudi Arabia, Iran, US, rev up for Pakistan Cholistan Desert Rally
Updated 23 February 2024
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International drivers from Saudi Arabia, Iran, US, rev up for Pakistan Cholistan Desert Rally

International drivers from Saudi Arabia, Iran, US, rev up for Pakistan Cholistan Desert Rally
  • The annual 19th Cholistan Desert Jeep Rally started in Bahawalpur this week
  • Over 150 racing enthusiasts from Pakistan and abroad are participating this year

ISLAMABAD: The annual 19th Cholistan Desert Jeep Rally started in Bahawalpur this week, with over 150 racing enthusiasts from Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Iran and other countries participating.
The Cholistan Desert in southern Punjab forms part of the Greater Thar Desert, which extends to Pakistan’s southern Sindh province and the Indian state of Rajasthan. Cholistan was once a center for caravan trade, leading to the construction of numerous forts in the medieval period to protect trade routes, of which the Derawar Fort in Bahawalpur is the best-preserved example.
The 19th edition of the desert rally, which spreads over 500 kilometers, started on Tuesday. Drivers from Saudi Arabia, the UK, Afghanistan, Iran, and the US are participating this year, Managing Director of Tourism Development Corporation of Punjab (TDCP) Humaira Akram told state-run APP.
“The women’s category has been made more active,” the official said. “The event will highlight the history and culture of the Cholistan Desert, the historical palaces of Bahawalpur, historical buildings, historical backgrounds, tourism, and culture through beautiful cultural dances in addition to light and sound shows.”
A qualifying round was held in Cholistan on February 22, followed by the first round of prepared cars on February 23, and a stock category race along with a dirt bike race on February 24, followed by a cultural show.
“On February 25, the prepared category race and truck race will take place, followed by the prize distribution ceremony,” Additional Deputy Commissioner Headquarters Sumera Rabani told media.
“The Cholistan Fort will be adorned with beautiful decorations during the Cholistan Rally. The Sports Department will organize competitions including Kabaddi, traditional wrestling, volleyball, and tug of war.”