DUBAI: Saudi rally driver Yazeed Al-Rajhi, the reigning World Cup champion, has set his sights on more success in the seventh and final round of the FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Bajas at Baja Dubai.
The three-day event is organized by the International Automobile Federation and runs until Nov. 12.
It marks Al-Rajhi’s third participation in Baja Dubai, this time alongside his German navigator Timo Gottschalk. Baja Dubai is renowned for its challenging desert rally tracks, and Al-Rajhi clinched the title in 2021 driving a Toyota Hilux. He also secured first place in the T1 Plus category.
“We conducted private tests for our car yesterday, and we are ready and excited to tackle Baja Dubai in its new edition after the preparations and training we underwent throughout the season,” Al-Rajhi said. “We anticipate a new challenge and fresh competition in the sands of Qudra, just like last year. We are confident in our abilities and our perfect performance, as always, as we strive to win the Baja Dubai title for the second time.”
Baja Dubai consists of two competitive stages on Saturday and Sunday preceded by a brief ceremonial stage, covering only 2 km on Friday near the rally headquarters at Dubai Festival City Mall. This event provides fans an opportunity to witness the action up close before the competition starts over the weekend.
The first stage will commence on Saturday stretching across the challenging terrains of the Qudra desert, featuring soft sands and sand dunes, posing real challenges to the drivers, who will test their skills in changing conditions over a timed distance of 168.4 km.
On Sunday, the competition will continue for the completion of the second stage, where drivers will navigate through the Qudra desert covering a distance of 169.05 km, all under strict timing conditions.
Despite a challenging start to the season due to an injury that prevented his participation in the first two rounds (Baja Hail and Baja Qatar) and the inability to secure crucial points for defending his title, Al-Rajhi has made a strong comeback, delivering outstanding performances and results in the subsequent rounds.
He is now poised to secure the runner-up position in the World Cup final standings this weekend.
Al-Rajhi will be driving the new Toyota Hilux, unveiled for the 2024 season during the recent Argentina round in the W2RC. This car will be used for the fifth edition of the Saudi Dakar Rally and other global rally competitions next year.
“I express my sincere thanks and gratitude to our official partner, Abdul Latif Jameel Motors, for their continuous and generous support of my rally career in international, regional and local sports events,” he said. “We look forward to a bright future and renewed successes, and we reiterate our deep gratitude to our sponsor for their continuous support and the confidence they place in us.”
The world champion’s navigator, Timo Gottschalk, commenting on his preparations for Baja Dubai, said: “This will be the first time I accompany my exceptional teammate Yazeed Al-Rajhi in Dubai. I had a wonderful experience as a navigator with another colleague in the past two years. I am extremely excited and eagerly look forward to this unique experience. We will do our utmost to achieve an honorable victory this weekend.”