CC Mutair Al-Shammeri takes surprise Ha'il Rally lead after first desert section
HA’IL INTERNATIONAL CROSS-COUNTRY RALLY – March 21-27, 2014
For immediate release
Monday, March 24th, 2014
MUTAIR AL-SHAMMERI TAKES SURPRISE LEAD IN
HA’IL RALLY LEAD AFTER FIRST DESERT SECTION
· Yazeed Al-Rajhi retires from event with broken Hummer engine
· Farhan Al-Shammeri climbs to second; Motab Saud in third
· Former winner Rajih Al-Shammeri rolls on opening super special
· Ahmed Al-Nasser leads bike/quad category from Sultan Al-Masood
HA’IL (Saudi Arabia): The Saudi Arabian Toyota crew of Mutair and Kamel Al-Shammeri were the surprise leaders of the FIA-sanctioned Ha’il International Rally, Saudi Arabia’s premier off-road motor sport event, after pre-event favourites Yazeed Al-Rajhi and Timo Gottschalk stopped with terminal engine problems within sight of the finish of the first 486km desert selection section on Monday.
Al-Rajhi and Gottschalk, the 2014 FIA World Cup leaders, had been the class of the field, although the Al-Shammeri crew ran well in their Toyota throughout the stage and finished well clear of their nearest rivals.
Al-Rajhi received outside assistance to reach the stage finish, but there was no way the Hummer’s engine could be repaired and the Riyadh driver retired, paving with the way for Farhan and Tariq Al-Shammeri to climb to second position.
The Emirati/Saudi crew of Mansoor Belhelai and Khalid Al-Shammeri held third before late technical problems gifted third place to Motab Saud and Issa Masoud in a Toyota.
Al-Rajhi had crushed the opposition on the short spectator stage on Sunday afternoon and finished the section with a lead of 18 seconds over the Emirati duo of Ali Al-Kitbi (Nissan) and Khalid Al-Jaflah (Chevrolet Buggy).
The Hummer driver was in fine form again on Monday morning and began to edge away from Mutair Al-Shammeri and Al-Kitbi as the stage progressed. He passed the motorcycles and quads and was the first competitor to reach both PC2 and PC3. Khalid Al-Jaflah was running in fourth as the leaders began to pull away from fifth-placed Farhan Al-Shammeri and Salman Al-Shammeri in sixth.
Al-Rajhi and Mutair Al-Shammeri continued to draw clear of the field, but Al-Rajhi stopped within sight of the finish and Al-Shammeri was the first driver to cross the finish line with a time of 4hr 02min 40sec to take the outright lead.
Mansoor Belhelai fresh from taking part in the Kuwait International Rally as one of the Abu Dhabi Racing Juniors, was also running well in a virtual third on the stage with his Nissan Patrol from the rear of the field, but he stopped within sight of the finish. There were further good stage performances by Saudi’s Khalid Al-Shammeri and Ridha Lafi.
Former MERC competitor Ahmed Al-Sabban entered his Ford Raptor for the second time this season and was classified in 20th of the 36 starters at the beginning of the first desert section. He held 20th overall at PC5 on Monday.
Former event winner Rajih Al-Shammeri rolled his Nissan Patrol in front a sizeable crowd on the opening super special stage. Event scrutineers checked the car for damage to the safety cage before the restart and the Saudi was able to continue from 36th position after losing 56 minutes on the stage. He maintained a fast pace early on before struggling, while Sami Al-Shammeri started near the rear of the field and picked up places as the stage progressed.
Lebanon’s Emil Kneisser Saudi’s Saleh El Hout and Tariq Al-Rummah were three of the drivers who failed to finish the stage.
Saudi rider Sultan Al-Masood edged into a two-second lead over Hamed Al-Hedyyan in the motorcycle and quad category through the super special stage, but it was largely irrelevant when the real desert action began on Monday. The bikes only tackled 20% of the competitive route taken by the cars.
Ahmed Al-Nasser led the way on his Honda CRF with a time of 1hr 55min 47sec and that was sufficient to beat Al-Masood by 14min 20sec to give him the outright lead. Majid Al-Jerpiea was a distant third, but Mohammed Al-Darweesh stopped in the stage and many of the rookie riders suffered woeful navigational issues.
Missing components for the Nissan meant that Ahmed Al-Shagawi and Yousef Arif Mohammed were not able to take the start and the Saudi-UAE pairing will now concentrate on preparations for the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge.
This year’s event is organised by the Saudi Arabian Motor Federation (SAMF) and 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.
Tomorrow (Tuesday), drivers and riders will tackle another demanding selective section of 367km through the An Nafud desert. The event finishes at the Maghwat Conference Centre on Thursday afternoon.
Positions after leg 1 – Monday (unofficial @ 15.23hrs):
1. Mutair Al-Shammeri (SAU)/Kamel Al-Shammeri (SAU) Toyota 4hr 06min 02sec
2. Farhan Al-Shammeri (SAU)/Tariq Al-Shammeri (SAU) Toyota 4hr 24min 46sec
3. Motab Saud (SAU)/Issa Masoud (SAU) Toyota 4hr 29min 52sec
4. Khaled Al-Shammeri (SAU)/Farhan Al-Shammeri (SAU) Toyota 4hr 33min 25sec
5. Ridha Lafi (SAU)/Nawaf Onizan (SAU) Toyota 4hr 34min 45sec
6. Ahmed Al-Shuhail (SAU)/Abdulaziz Ashfour (SAU) Nissan 4hr 41min 35sec
7. Khalid Al-Jaflah (ARE)/Ahmed Malik (ARE) Chevrolet Buggy 4hr 42min 27sec
8. Salman Al-Shammeri (SAU)/Rasheed Al-Tiwyawi (SAU) Toyota 4hr 42min 40sec
Yazeed Al-Rajhi (SAU)/Timo Gottschalk (DEU) Hummer 4hr 09min 55sec*
*retired with engine problems
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: firstname.lastname@example.org. 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: email@example.com.