CC Czech star Zapletal set for Saudi Baja return

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
Saturday, December 27th, 2008
·UAE rallying trio head to Saudi Arabian deserts
RIYADH (Saudi Arabia): Leading Czech rally driver Miroslav Zapletal will take part in the Ha'il Saudi Baja, round one of the FIA International Cup for Bajas, in Saudi Arabia on January 26th-29th.

The event 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 former winner of the Baja GB was consistently the third fastest driver in last February's Saudi event, but leg two time penalties cost him a possible place on the podium. He eventually finished fifth overall with co-driver Miloslav Janacek at the wheel of a Mitsubishi L200 and will be hoping to improve on that result at the end of next month.

Zapletal is the head of the development section of a successful car preparation company called Offroadsport in his native Czech republic. He is also planning to tackle the Dakar Rally in South America in the next three weeks. An injury to regular co-driver Janacek means that Tomas Ourednicek has been partnering the Mitsubishi driver in recent weeks.

"We are pleased to see that Miroslav and his team will be back again in 2009 and extend a warm welcome to his crew," said Mishaal Al-Sudairy, chairman of the organising committee. "Many of the regional competitors are still finalising their plans for the Ha'il Baja and we are looking forward to the number of entrants being boosted at the start of January."

Entries are still open for Saudi Arabia's premier off-road event, although three UAE teams have already entered and will be hoping for top five finishes when the competitive action gets underway with a 6.5km super special stage on Tuesday, January 27th, adjacent to the Maghwat conference facility in Ha'il.

Raed Baker was plagued by clutch problems when he entered the Saudi event two years ago and was forced out of the event in soft sand at a stage start, but the Emirati will be joined by Ian Barker and UAE Desert Challenge regular Abdullah Al-Herais in the Nafud deserts of the north-central region of the Kingdom.

Barker finished 13th overall in the recent UAE Desert Challenge at the wheel of a Nissan Patrol. The Briton works in the UAE and runs a company called Al-Thika Packaging that was formerly known as Gulf Technology Systems.

Al-Herais and co-driver Haleem Bin Zayed finished fifth in the 2008 UAE Desert Challenge, while Baker is a former winner of the 1000 Dunes Rally in the UAE and was co-driven by Nabil Ahmadi in a Mitsubishi L200 in the recent UAE event. Baker is a guiding light in the Dubai-based infrastructure group Dutco and has tackled numerous rounds of the FIA Middle East Rally Championship in the past.

The main 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: 27/12/2008

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