MERC Yazeed Al-Rajhi claims comfortable win in Sharqia Rally

Sharqia Rally 2010
FIA Middle East Rally Championship, round 4 of 8

For immediate release
Thursday, April 22nd, 2010



·         Qatar’s Misfer Al-Marri seals second and leads MERC outright

·         Sensation third for Saudi rookie Abduali Saleh; Al-Qassimi forced out

HALF MOON BAY (Saudi Arabia): Saudi Arabian driver Yazeed Al-Rajhi and French co-driver Matthieu Baumel moved into second position in the FIA Middle East Rally Championship (MERC) after clinching a comfortable 3m 05.5s victory in the Sharqia Rally in Saudi Arabia on Thursday.


Al-Rajhi sealed his third career MERC rally win and his second successive victory after delivering a professional performance on day two’s six desert special stages in the Half Moon Bay area of Al-Khobar.


“I am very proud to win this event here in my country,” said Al-Rajhi, who was driving a Kronos Peugeot 207 S2000. “The goal was to win and I can now leave the championship and move on to another programme on a high note. I had a puncture on the first day and problems with the brakes on the second stage today, but it is great to win. I honour the people of the Eastern Province with this victory.”


Qatar’s Misfer Al-Marri and Italian co-driver Nicola Arena sealed second overall in a Subaru Impreza and both now lead their respective Drivers’ and Co-Drivers’ title races by four points at the half-way point of the season after four rounds.


Saudi rookie sensation Abduali Saleh stunned the regulars with a superb drive to seal third overall after surging past Kuwait’s Meshari Al-Thafiri on the penultimate stage.


The event was Saleh’s first international rally and he entered the record books for being the first driver in the series to reach the podium on his first ever event. “Abduali’s performance has capped a superb weekend for Saudi Arabia,” enthused a delighted Al-Rajhi.


Sixteen cars were permitted to start the final day and tackle three special stages, repeated twice. Included in those missing from the list were Qatar’s Mubarak Al-Hajri and Sheikh Khalid Al-Qassimi; the Emirati’s windscreen woes and lack of a spare to replaced the damaged one forced him out of the rally on safety grounds.


Al-Rajhi set out to defend a 53.9s lead, but it was his main rival Misfer Al-Marri who set the fastest time through the Al-Maakusa stage and reduced the Saudi’s lead to 53.6s. Khalid Al-Suwaidi restarted under SupeRally and set the third fastest time and the Saudi duo of Abduali Saleh and Saeed Al-Mouri consolidated fourth and fifth places behind Jaber Al-Marri, who was awarded a two-minute penalty as a result of his passage through two short stages on Wednesday.


Al-Marri reduced Al-Rajhi’s lead by another 5.6s through A’Dannan, but the Saudi was playing the waiting game and taking no risks on a stage where Qatar’s Sheikh Hamed Bin Eid Al-Thani set the third fastest time to continue his recovery from the previous day’s transmission problems. Jaber Al-Marri succumbed to mechanical woes before the stage and this promoted young Saleh into a sensational third overall.


The contest for the outright win was all but settled in Dhallum; Al-Marri dropped 44.8s to Al-Rajhi and the Saudi returned to the midday service point with an outright lead of 1m 32.8s. Al-Thafiri stormed into third position by passing Saleh in the 10th stage. Kuwait’s Essam Al-Nejadi and Saudi’s Ahmed Al-Sabban failed to complete the special because of reported fuel pump and electrical problems and just 13 cars reached service.


Al-Suwaidi won the 11th stage at Al-Maakusa, but Al-Rajhi maintained an overall lead of 1m 34.3s with the second fastest time. The Saudi extended that lead to an emphatic 1m 43.5s through the 12th A’Dannan stage and headed into the final special with a comfortable cushion. Saleh regained third place from Al-Thafiri to set up a fascinating showdown for the final podium place through the closing 35.6km of the 13th Dhallum test.


Al-Rajhi held on to seal his second successive MERC win and defend the Sharqia Rally title he earned for the first time in 2008. Al-Marri was a clear second and moved into the outright championship lead and Saleh claimed a stunning third overall to complete a superb weekend for Saudi Arabian drivers, with Saeed Al-Mouri sealing fifth position.


There is now a five-month gap before the eight-round FIA Middle East Rally Championship resumes with the Rally of Lebanon on September 17-19.


2010 Sharqia Rally – provisional results after SS13 (unofficial @ 15.00hrs):

1. Yazeed Al-Rajhi (KSA)/Matthieu Baumel (F) Peugeot 207 S2000                                    2h 04m 02.6s

2. Misfer Al-Marri (QA)/Nicola Arena (I) Subaru Impreza                                                 2h 07m 08.1s

3. Abdulali Saleh (KSA)/Khaled Al-Kendi (UAE) Subaru Impreza                                   2h 15m 48.4s

4. Meshari Al-Thafiri (KT)/Faris Al-Thafiri (KT) Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution IX                             2h 17m 41.3

5. Saeed Al-Mouri (KSA)/Ali Al-Saiyari (KSA) Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution IX                             2h 20m 32.0s

6. Mohammed Al-Marri (QA)/Basil Ghazzawi (CAN) Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution VIII           2h 22m 59.8s

7. Khaled Al-Suwaidi (QA)/Musabha Marwan (QA) Subaru Impreza                                   2h 25m 50.7s

8. Sheikh Hamed Bin Eid Al-Thani (QA)/Arif Yousef Mohammed (UAE) Subaru Impreza 2h 39m 04.0s

9. Abdullah Al-Hajri (KT)/Nawaf Al-Safi (KT) Subaru Impreza                                                   2h 39m 56.7s

10. Eid Falah/Ahmed Al-Zabibi (KT) Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution                                  2h 48m 59.7s

11. Fahad Ashkanani (KT)/Husain Ghadhanfar (KT) Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution VIII           2h 50m 24.1s

12. Farhan Al-Ghaleb (KSA)/Tariq Rammah (KSA) Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution IX             3h 07m 49.9s

13. Rami Jaber Daoud (PAL)/Khaled Khadoura (PAL) Fiat Stilo                                                                3h 18m 17.7s


2010 FIA Middle East Rally Championship

Drivers’ Championship – after round 4 of 8 (unofficial)

1. Misfer Al-Marri (QA)                                             24 pts                          

2. Yazeed Al-Rajhi (KSA)                               20 pts              

3. Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah (QA)                          16 pts

4. Sheikh Hamad Bin Eid Al-Thani (QA)                 14 pts                                      

5. Khalid Al-Suwaidi (QA)                             11 pts              

6. Sheikh Khalid Al-Qassimi (UAE)               10 pts

7. Amjad Farrah (HKJ)                                        9 pts                

8. Rashid Al-Ketbi (UAE)                               8 pts

8. Essam Al-Nejadi (KT)                                            8 pts                            

8. Mohammed Al-Marri (QA)                             8 pts, etc                   



1. Nicola Arena (I)                                             24 pts                          

2. Matthieu Baumel (F)                                            20 pts              

3. Giovanni Bernacchini (I)                           16 pts              

4. Arif Yousef Mohammed (UAE                            15 pts              

5. Khaled Al-Kendi (UAE)                              14 pts              

6. Michael Orr (GB)                                         10 pts

7. Nick Beech (GB)                                         6 pts

8. Steve Lancaster (GB)                                      5 pts

8. Jake Carlin (GB)                                         5 pts



For further media information:

Neil Perkins, 2010 Sharqia Rally International Press Liaison, NDP Publicity Services, Tel: + 44 7831 123153, E-mail: ndppublicity@googlemail.com. www.ndp-publicity.com.

Arabic: Firas Nimri, Arabic Press Liaison, Mobile: + 962 777 282000, E-mail: firas@nimri.com
http://www.sharqiarally.com/ and www.merc-fia.com

For latest results go to: http://rally.ficr.it or http://timing.sporttraxx.com/races/sharqia-2010/

Date issued: 22/04/2010

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