CC Saudi Arabia's premier off-road event starts in Ha'il on Sunday


For immediate release
Saturday, March 22nd, 2014


· In-form Yazeed Al-Rajhi and Timo Gottschalk top Ha’il car entry
· Impressive 40 cars and 13 bikes and quads set for Sunday start

HA’IL (Saudi Arabia): The Ha’il International Cross-Country Rally, Saudi Arabia’s premier off-road motor sport event, gets underway with a short timed super special near Ha’il’s Maghwat conference centre on Sunday afternoon.

The ambitious cross-country event will then run over four challenging desert selective sections through the An Nafud desert on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, before finishing in Ha’il on Thursday afternoon (March 27th).

The in-form Riyadh driver Yazeed Al-Rajhi will lead an impressive 40-car entry of mainly local drivers across the start ramp, as he bids to win his fourth event this season. Al-Rajhi won Rally Jeddah with Frenchman Alex Winocq and has also taken two successive FIA World Cup wins with German co-driver Timo Gottschalk in an Overdrive Toyota this year.

Al-Rajhi is entered in a Hummer in Ha’il and plans to arrive with only hours to spare before the start after taking part in this weekend’s Kuwait International Rally. “Obviously it was important that I did not miss Kuwait, but Ha’il is one of the most important rallies in the calendar for me and it is the biggest rally in my country. I have a great record here, love competing over the desert stages in Ha’il and want to keep my winning streak going on this type of event this year!”

Gottschalk teams up with the Saudi for the first time in the Middle East in a bid to keep the impressive early season form going. But the former Dakar-winning co-driver is no stranger to the Ha’il event, having partnered Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah to the second of the Qatari’s two wins with a Volkswagen Race Touareg in 2011.

A host of Nissans and Toyotas dominate the field, driven by an impressive list of Saudi drivers, including Ibrahim Muhanna, Sami Al-Shammeri, Khalaf Joan Al-Shammeri, Omar Al-Lahim and Farhan Al-Ghalab. The 2007 winner Rajih Al-Shammeri is seeded 10th on this occasion. Muhanna faced a race against time to get back to Ha’il after taking part in the final round of the Kuwait national 4x4 championship on Friday.

Former special stage rally driver Ahmed Al-Sabban debuted a new Ford Raptor at the recent Rally Jeddah and set some encouraging stage times in the UAE-built car. The Ford will sport the number 203 in Ha’il and Al-Sabban is relishing the challenge alongside Qatari co-driver Adel Abdullah. Abdullah partnered Khalifa Al-Attiyah in Kuwait at the weekend.

Non-Saudi competitors on the entry list include the Emirati driver Matar Al-Mansoori, and the well-travelled Dubai-based co-driver Arif Yousef Mohammed, who is sitting alongside Ahmed Al-Shegawi in a Nissan Patrol. The Qatari duo of Mohammed Al-Mannai and Kamal Khoder also appear on the entry list with a Nissan.

Saudi riders Abdul Majid Khulaifi, Abdullah Ghazy Al-Shoaby and Sultan Al-Masood head a 13-strong motorcycle and quad entry, which features six 450cc bikes and seven quads.

This year’s event is being staged under the patronage of His Royal Highness 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 SAMF runs under the chairmanship of His Royal Highness Prince Sultan Bin Bandar Al-Faisal and the event is being organised in conjunction with the High Authority for the Development of Ha’il.

Leading starters:
201. Yazeed Al-Rajhi (SAU)/Timo Gottschalk (DEU) Hummer
202. Saeed Al-Mouri (SAU)/TBA Toyota
203. Ahmed Al-Sabban (SAU)/Aden Hussein (QAT) Ford Raptor
204. Ibrahim Muhanna (SAU)/Ali Hassan (SAU) Toyota
205. Ahmed Al-Shegawi (SAU)/Arif Yousef Mohammed (ARE) Nissan Patrol
206. Khalaf Joan Al-Shammeri (SAU)/Saleh Al-Shammeri (SAU) Toyota
207. Sami Al-Shammeri (SAU)/Abdullah Al-Shammeri (SAU) TBA
208. Omar Al-Lahim (SAU)/Waleed Al-Fiuam (SAU) Nissan
209. Tariq Al-Rammah (SAU)/Rami Al-Husseini (SAU) TBA
210. Rajih Al-Shammeri (SAU)/Mubarak Al-Shammeri (SAU) TBA


For further media information:
English: Neil Perkins, 2014 Ha’il International Cross-Country Rally, International Press Officer, NDP Publicity Services, Mobile: + 44 7831 123153, E-mail: ndppublicity@googlemail.com. www.ndp-publicity.com (press releases). Twitter: @LordPerkins.

Arabic: Firas Nimri, 2014 Ha’il International Cross-Country Rally, National Press Officer, Mobile: + 962 777 282000, E-mail: nimrifiras@yahoo.com.



Date issued: 22/03/2014

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