Dakar Rally Saudi Arabia gears up for its 5th edition

Dakar Rally Saudi Arabia gears up for its 5th edition
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Dakar Rally Saudi Arabia gears up for its 5th edition
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Over 1,000 race cars and equipment arrived at Yanbu after the two vessels carrying them berthed at King Fahd Industrial Port as preparations for Dakar Rally’s fifth edition in Saudi Arabia are underway. (Supplied)
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Updated 19 December 2023
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Dakar Rally Saudi Arabia gears up for its 5th edition

Dakar Rally Saudi Arabia gears up for its 5th edition
  • Participants of the 46th edition of Dakar Rally will embark on a new challenge across Saudi Arabia’s picturesque landscapes
  • This year’s rally course consists of a prologue stage and 12 special stages

JEDDAH: Over 1,000 race cars and equipment arrived at Yanbu after the two vessels carrying them berthed at King Fahd Industrial Port as preparations for Dakar Rally’s fifth edition in Saudi Arabia are underway.
The vessels sailed toward the Kingdom from Barcelona, and once the offloading process is completed, rally cars and equipment are poised to proceed to the rally’s launch site, according to a media statement on Tuesday.
Participants of the 46th edition of Dakar Rally, the motorsport world’s most famous and challenging rally, are preparing to embark on a new challenge across Saudi Arabia’s picturesque landscapes and explore its distinctive geographical diversity between Jan. 5 and 19, 2024.
The two vessels were loaded with 864 vehicles, five helicopters, and 39 containers, along with support, media, and event organizer vehicles. The Kingdom is fully hosting the event for the fifth consecutive year, with 778 drivers and co-drivers participating.
This year’s rally course consists of a prologue stage and 12 special stages, beginning with a preliminary journey from AlUla’s desert camp before venturing through Al-Henakiyah, Al-Duwadimi, Al-Salamiya, Al-Hofuf, Shubaytah, Riyadh, Hail, and Yanbu.
Participants are expected to start arriving in the Kingdom on Dec. 29 and 30, 2023, with the scrutineering of the participating vehicles scheduled for Jan. 3 and 4, 2024, at the AlUla camp.
The opening ceremony is set for Jan. 4, the prologue stage for Jan. 5, and the first stage of the rally starts on Jan. 6, 2024.
The Dakar Rally 2024 Saudi Arabia will feature 434 vehicles, including 137 motorbikes, 72 race cars, 46 trucks, 42 T3 and 36 T4 lightweight vehicles, alongside 10 quad bikes, 66 classic cars, and 14 classic trucks. Additionally, 10 vehicles will compete in the Dakar Future — Mission 1000 category, comprising one car, one truck, two T3 category vehicles, and six motorbikes.
The Dakar Rally stands as one of the oldest races in motorsports, recognized for its extensive scale, variety of events, and the intense thrill and passion it consistently delivers. It is organized by the Amaury Sport Organization in collaboration with the Saudi Motorsport Co., which operates under the umbrella of the Saudi Automobile and Motorcycle Federation, in coordination with other local authorities.


Leclerc claims Monaco pole to end Verstappen’s record sequence

Leclerc claims Monaco pole to end Verstappen’s record sequence
Updated 25 May 2024
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Leclerc claims Monaco pole to end Verstappen’s record sequence

Leclerc claims Monaco pole to end Verstappen’s record sequence
  • It brought Leclerc his third Monaco pole position and ended Verstappen’s run of seven straight poles this year
  • Three-time world champion Verstappen struggled for Red Bull after hitting the barriers on his final fast lap

MONACO: Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc snatched pole position at his home Monaco Grand Prix on Saturday, as championship leader Max Verstappen could only finish sixth fastest.
The 26-year-old Monegasque driver, who has never managed a podium finish at his home race, clocked a best lap of one minute and 10.270 seconds to outpace Australian Oscar Piastri of McLaren by 0.154 seconds.
It brought Leclerc his third Monaco pole position and ended Verstappen’s run of seven straight poles this year and a record-equalling eight in succession, shared with three-time champion Ayrton Senna.
Three-time world champion Verstappen struggled for Red Bull after hitting the barriers on his final fast lap.
“It was so nice,” said a relieved Leclerc after a tense and thrilling qualifying.
“I’m really happy about my lap. The excitement was so high, but I know from the past that qualifying is not everything. The win is the target.”
Leclerc’s Ferrari team-mate Carlos Sainz was third ahead of Lando Norris in the second McLaren, Mercedes’ George Russell and Verstappen.
“It was close,” said Piastri. “If you took the second half of my first lap and the first half of my second one it would have been enough for pole!“
Sainz added: “I’ve struggled all weekend with confidence in the car so it’s an improvement. I just wish I was fighting for pole.”
Seven-time champion Lewis Hamilton was seventh in the second Mercedes ahead of RB’s Yuki Tsunoda, Alex Albon of Williams and Pierre Gasly of Alpine.
In near-perfect Riviera conditions with sunshine and temperatures of 48 degrees celsius on the track and 21 in the air, Hamilton led Russell and the rest out of the pits.
As the Mercedes ran two preparatory laps, it was Tsunoda on top for RB before Hamilton took command only for the rapidly-tumbling times to deliver Verstappen, Kevin Magnussen and Nico Hulkenberg on top, the two Haas drivers retaining their positions until Russell took over.
Leclerc, disappointed by Ferrari’s decision to delay his entry, was 13th before he recorded a fast lap to go top in 1:11.653, a tenth clear of Magnussen and Hulkenberg.
In a fiercely-contested session, Hamilton jumped to second, but Perez was 14th and Norris 18th with only a minute remaining before, in a frantic finish to Q1, the Briton climbed to safety, but Perez was out along with Alonso.
The Mexican was 18th making an early exit for the second year running along with the two-time champion, in his Aston Martin, Williams’ Logan Sargeant, Valtteri Bottas and his Sauber team-mate Zhou Guanyu.
“We’ve struggled all the way through,” said Perez. “It is so tight, the margins I thought I could make the top five.”
Norris was first out for Q2, but Sainz swiftly went quickest ahead of Verstappen in another tight tussle with barely a second separating the top 14 and the Alpines suddenly flying, Gasly claiming a place in Q3 in fifth. “Let’s go, let’s go!” he cried.
Piastri, looking confident, then clocked a 1:10.756 only to be beaten by team-mate Norris as the McLarens took control ahead of Leclerc and Russell before another busy finale saw Esteban Ocon of Alpine, Hulkenberg, Daniel Ricciardo of RB, Lance Stroll in the second Aston Martin and Magnussen eliminated.
Sainz was first out for the top ten shootout, followed by Hamilton who clocked 1:10.975, an impressive lap that was blown away immediately by Leclerc in 1:10.418, a lap nine-tenths faster than Verstappen’s pole time last year.
The Dutchman’s first timed lap left him third after losing time in the final sector. “Still the same issues in Turns Five and Ten,” he reported.
As conditions continued to improve, Sainz and Verstappen chose to run again on a traffic-free lap, the rest following.
Hamilton improved to take fourth, but Russell beat him and then Verstappen glanced a barrier before Leclerc improved to 1:10.418 to take a dramatic pole ahead of Piastri, the Italian team’s 250th pole position in Formula One.


FIA president praises growth of motorsport industry in Oman

FIA president praises growth of motorsport industry in Oman
Updated 22 May 2024
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FIA president praises growth of motorsport industry in Oman

FIA president praises growth of motorsport industry in Oman
  • Mohammed Ben Sulayem held talks with senior government officials during visit

MUSCAT: FIA President Mohammed Ben Sulayem has held talks with senior government officials in Oman to discuss the growth of motorsports and efforts to bring sustainable mobility initiatives to the country.

Ben Sulayem reaffirmed the FIA’s support for Oman’s development projects and said: “I was delighted to learn more about the growth of motorsport in Oman during the various meetings. The government is supporting grassroots development plans to ensure that motor sport will thrive in the years to come.”

He added: “I applaud the excellent work that is being undertaken by the Oman Automobile Association under the direction of Chairman Brigadier Salem Al-Maskiry in the areas of both sport and mobility.”

The president’s visit was hosted by the Oman Automobile Association, which was founded in 1979 and currently has over 10,500 members.

During the trip, he met with Minister of Culture, Sports and Youth Sayyid Theyazin Bin Haitham Al-Said, Secretary General Royal Court Affairs Nasr Hamoud Al-Kindi, and Minister of Housing and Urban Planning Khalfan Bin Saeed Al-Shueili.

He also enjoyed a visit to the Royal Opera House and shared a convivial dinner with Sheikh Khalid bin Mohammed Al-Zubair, president of the Oman Olympic Committee.

Later this year, the OAA will host the iRracing FIA F4 Esports tournament, which will feature the Middle East and North Africa International Karting Trophy.

Drifting and remote-control racing are also thriving sports in Oman. The country has benefited from FIA grant funding in recent years, including for safety training for both baja and cross country competitions.

On the mobility side, the FIA and OAA co-hosted an environmental seminar which featured more than 30 participants from 14 regional sport and mobility clubs. The event provided a unique opportunity for the FIA and its members to share knowledge and experiences about environmental challenges in MENA countries.

Presentations and discussions focused on the FIA’s environmental strategy and the tools available to support clubs in organizing more sustainable events.

Club representatives also took part in a session aimed at furthering understanding of climate change, empowering them to become proactive contributors to taking action.


Hamilton says struggling Mercedes have found ‘North Star’

Hamilton says struggling Mercedes have found ‘North Star’
Updated 16 May 2024
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Hamilton says struggling Mercedes have found ‘North Star’

Hamilton says struggling Mercedes have found ‘North Star’
  • “There is a long way to go,” said Hamilton
  • “The energy in the team is amazing“

IMOLA, Italy: Seven-time champion Lewis Hamilton offered an upbeat view on Mercedes’ future prospects on Thursday when he said the team had finally found their “North Star” in the prolonged effort to develop their car.
The Briton, without a win since the 2021 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, said he was encouraged by the directional breakthrough and both the energy and resilience of the team.
Speaking ahead of this weekend’s Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, the first race in Europe this year after six flyaway rounds around the world, Hamilton and his Mercedes team-mate George Russell said they were impressed by the durability of their team.
Mercedes have struggled for performance and have yet to register a podium finish this season.
“There is a long way to go,” said Hamilton. “But I am excited with what I know we have coming in the pipe-line now. We have found our North Star and we know what we want to do and what to change.
“The energy in the team is amazing. They are so resilient and continue to push all the time even though we have been knocked down quite a few times this year.”
Hamilton, who has won six of his drivers titles with Mercedes, is set to leave the team and join Ferrari next year.


Saudia unites football, motorsport with displays in Newcastle, Berlin

Saudia unites football, motorsport with displays in Newcastle, Berlin
Updated 15 May 2024
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Saudia unites football, motorsport with displays in Newcastle, Berlin

Saudia unites football, motorsport with displays in Newcastle, Berlin
  • Kingdom’s flag carrier introduces fans to new Gen3 Formula E car at St. James’ Park
  • Immersive fan zone offers variety of interactive experiences during Berlin E-Prix

BERLIN/JEDDAH: Saudia, the flag carrier of Saudi Arabia, has flown the new Gen3 Formula E car to St. James’ Park in the UK to coincide with Newcastle United’s final home game of the season.

The carrier has a strategic partnership with the Premier League club and is also the official airline partner of the all-electric Formula E series.

The event coincided with the release of a short film bringing together the worlds of motorsport and football, with football fans being introduced to Formula E and the car.

“This event provides a fantastic platform for us to engage with our guests and the global audience, whether in person or through our innovative digital portals,” Khaled Tash, Saudia Group’s chief marketing officer, said in the statement.

“Integrating our partnerships with both Newcastle United and Formula E in such an engaging manner exemplifies our commitment to bringing fans closer to the sports they love. Each year, we strive to elevate the experience for racegoers and fans worldwide, as part of our commitment to creating unforgettable memories wherever our brand is present.”

Saudia also hosted an immersive fan zone experience during the Berlin E-Prix on May 11-12 in Berlin.

Fans were given access to an E-Village, with a dedicated Discover-E Zone featuring a variety of interactive experiences, as well as games, competitions, and giveaways featuring both Saudia and Formula E merchandise.


8 watches owned by F1 great Michael Schumacher fetch more than $4m at auction in Geneva

8 watches owned by F1 great Michael Schumacher fetch more than $4m at auction in Geneva
Updated 14 May 2024
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8 watches owned by F1 great Michael Schumacher fetch more than $4m at auction in Geneva

8 watches owned by F1 great Michael Schumacher fetch more than $4m at auction in Geneva
  • The top piece in the sale, organized by Schumacher’s family, was a watch given to the German racing superstar by former Ferrari CEO Jean Todt
  • Remi Guillemin, head of watches for Europe and the Americas for auction house Christie’s, declined to identify the buyer

GENEVA: Eight watches belonging to auto racing icon Michael Schumacher sold Tuesday for nearly 4 million Swiss francs ($4.4 million) at a Geneva auction.
The top piece in the sale, organized by Schumacher’s family, was a watch given to the German racing superstar by former Ferrari CEO Jean Todt as a Christmas present in 2004. The hammer came down at a price of 1.2 million francs, or 1.5 million including the buyer’s commission.
That was well within the pre-sale estimate range of 1-2 million francs.
The custom-made platinum timepiece from F.P. Journe, the Vagabondage 1, features 18-carat white gold, a red watch face and images of a Ferrari logo, Schumacher’s racing helmet and a “7” — to honor his seven World Championship victories.
Remi Guillemin, head of watches for Europe and the Americas for auction house Christie’s, declined to identify the buyer, but said that five watches in the Ruthenium collection — a boxed set — were purchased by the same buyer.
While most of the eight watches sold within the pre-sale estimates, an Audemars Piguet featuring a Ferrari prancing horse emblem, sold for a hammer price of 330,000 francs — well above the top of the expected range at 250,000.
The sale of Schumacher watches, which garnered a total of more than 3.1 million francs at the hammer price, was timed for the 30th anniversary of his first Formula One Drivers Championship win in 1994.
The watches, which were taken to New York and Taipei for showings before the sale, were part of a larger auction of luxury timepieces to go under the hammer on Tuesday at Christie’s in Geneva.
Schumacher, who retired from F1 in 2012, shares the record for most F1 titles with British driver Lewis Hamilton.
In December the following year, Schumacher fell while skiing in the French Alpine resort of Meribel and suffered a near-fatal brain injury.
Since being transferred from hospital in September 2014, he continues to be cared for privately at a family home in Switzerland.