CC Saudi officials announce Hail Baja set to run in January 2009

SAUDI ARABIA HA'IL BAJA  (Ha'il Rally 2009…The Great Nafud Challenge), January 26th-29th, 2009
2009 FIA International Cup for Cross-Country Bajas, round 1 of 6
For immediate release
Tuesday, November 25th, 2008
·SAMF plans challenging Nafud desert route for FIA Ha'il Baja
·Entries open and concessions available for overseas teams
RIYADH (Saudi Arabia): Officials at the Saudi Arabian Motor Federation (SAMF) have confirmed that the 2009 Saudi Arabian Ha'il Baja or Ha'il Rally 2009 will run as the opening round of the 2009 FIA International Cup for Cross-Country Bajas in the Nafud desert, near Ha'il, in the north-central region of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia on January 26th-29th, 2009.

Saudi's premier off-road event has moved back in the FIA off-road calendar to accommodate the new Northern Forest Rally in Russia and the three-day motor sport bonanza remains the only round of the FIA Baja series to take place outside Europe.

It is being organised by the Saudi Arabian Motor Federation under the patronage of HRH Prince Saud Bin Abdul Mohsen Bin Abdul Aziz, Governor of Ha'il, President of the Supreme Commission for Ha'il Development and the Head of the Supreme Commission of the Ha'il Rally.

The Saudi Ha'il Baja entered the FIA championship for the first time in 2008 and was won by Qatar's Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah and French co-driver Matthieu Baumel, the winning co-driver in the recent Sharqia Rally in Saudi Arabia's Eastern Province. There are again six rounds in the popular FIA Baja series, with the Ha'il event being joined by rounds in Russia, Italy, Spain, Hungary and Portugal in the 2009 calendar.

"Motorsport is becoming increasingly-popular in Saudi Arabia and we have just run a successful special stage rally in the Eastern Province, which will enter the FIA Middle East Rally Championship in 2009," said Mishaal Al-Sudairy, chairman of the organising committee. The special stage rally has already been given an April 7th-9th slot in next year's regional series.

"Our Ha'il Baja is now an established round of the FIA Baja championship and we are delighted to have been chosen to get the new Baja calendar year underway again. We welcome competitors from every country to come and sample our hospitality and the unique challenge that our beautiful country will provide in terms of a testing route and challenging special stages."

Ha'il Baja clerk of the course Elie Semaan has confirmed that the Prologue stage will be extended to around four or five kilometres in 2009, although he admits that stages on legs two and three are similar to those used in 2008 and will again feature a fine balance of sand dunes, faster sandy terrain and several technical and twisty sections. "This region of the Kingdom is blessed with some superb terrain for Baja-type rallying," admitted Semaan. "We are able to benefit from some spectacular and excellent stages."

The event will be based at the Maghwat facility on the outskirts of Ha'il once again and the official event timetable will get underway with scrutineering, documentation and the official pre-event press conference on Monday, January 26th.

The ceremonial start and official Prologue will take place on Tuesday, January 27th and the off-road competitive action will take place over two legs in the Nafud desert on Wednesday, January 28th and Thursday, January 29th, with the ceremonial prize giving, podium and post-event press conference taking place on Thursday afternoon.

Non-Saudi teams will be offered $2500.00 USD and accommodation if they wish to take part in the Ha'il Baja, while event officials will also arrange visa formalities, where necessary, although passport details must reach organisers no less than four weeks before the event, for which entries are now officially open.
Further information on concessions for international, GCC and Saudi Arabian teams is available from the Saudi Arabian Motor Federation, PO Box 87881, Riyadh 11652, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Tel: + 9661 477 1035, Fax: + 9661 477 1050 and from Ramy Atwa, ram_atwa@yahoo.com or Hamoud Al-Jabry, Mobile: +966 560 623436, E-mail: aljabry@samf.gov.sa.

For further media information:
Neil Perkins, 2009 Ha'il Saudi Baja International Press Officer, NDP Publicity Services, Mobile: + 44 7831 123153, E-mail: ndppublicity@compuserve.com. www.ndp-publicity.com (press releases).

Date issued: 25/11/2008

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