CC Al-Rajhi and Gottschalk storm into Ha'il Nissan International Rally lead


For immediate release
Thursday, March 19th, 2015


· Second place for Emirati Al-Helai; Saudi’s Salman Saud Al-Shammeri in third
· Ahmed Al-Nasser wins motorcycle super special; quad success for Al-Khulaifi
· Nissan agrees three-year deal to become title sponsor of Ha’il International Rally

HA’IL (Saudi Arabia): Saudi Arabian driver Yazeed Al-Rajhi and his German navigator Timo Gottschalk stormed into an 11.91-second advantage after the opening 4.6km super special stage of the 10th Ha’il Nissan International Rally on Thursday afternoon.

The Hummer driver was in a class of his own at the front of the field, although the Emirati pairing of Yayha Al-Helai and Khalid Al-Kendi gave a good account of themselves to claim the runner-up spot. The Nissan pick-up duo finished the stage over 15 seconds in front of the third-placed all-Saudi crew of Salman Saud Al-Shammeri and Abdulaziz Mashari.

Forty-six cars, five motorcycles and two quads eventually passed scrutineering checks and made the start of the 10th anniversary event. One of the new Saudi entrants is Ahmed Al-Malki, the son of former driver and Saudi rallying stalwart Mohammed Al-Malki.

There was a slight delay at the start of the stage when Mohammed Farhan hit trouble in his Nissan, but the Emirati Khalid Al-Jafla set the early target time of 4min 20.57sec in his T3 Polaris.

This was eclipsed by the 4min 15.85sec time set by the Toyota of Salman Saud Al-Shammeri. Farouk Ghurab failed to finish the stage, but Al-Helai moved into the virtual lead with a time of 4min 00.52sec, prior to the leading group of drivers tackling the sandy special. Al-Rajhi saved the best until last and a storming time of 3min 48.61sec sealed the stage win.

“Today was all about not making a mistake and entertaining the crowds without damaging the car,” said Al-Rajhi. “Last year we had a serious problem on this stage, so it was nice to get through without a problem.”

Saudi’s Ahmed Al-Nasser edged into a narrow lead in the motorcycle category over Abdulsalem-Rami Hamam, while Abdul-Majeed Al-Khulaifi pipped Hamad Al-Hdayan to the early quad advantage.

Nissan announced on the eve of the event that they would become the title sponsor in a three-year agreement with rally officials. The contract was signed between Prince Abdullah bin Khalid Bin Abdullah Al-Saud, vice-president of the supreme commission for Ha’il development, and Samir Cherfan, managing director of Nissan Middle East.

The Japanese car manufacturer also agreed to support five Saudi drivers taking part in the event and offered other backing to fellow Nissan drivers, in addition to providing 23 support cars and the course opening vehicle to the Saudi Arabian Motor Federation.

The rally 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 (Friday), car crews and riders tackle the first of three demanding selective sections across the Kingdom’s An Nafud desert.

After a run out from Ha’il for 109.51km to the start of the action at Baqaa, the car stage will be divided into two sections. The first finishes at Trubah and runs for 130.20km and the second half doubles back to return to Baqaa and runs for 158.56km. Motorcycles will tackle a shorter single selective section of 140.15km, starting and finishing in Baqaa.

Positions after leg 1 – Thursday (unofficial @ 17.15hrs):
Cars (top 20 only)

1.Yazeed Al-Rajhi (SAU)/Timo Gottschalk (DEU) Hummer 3min 48.61sec
2. Yayha Al-Helai (ARE)/Khalid Al-Kendi (ARE) Nissan Pick-Up 4min 00.52sec
3. Salman Saud Al-Shammeri (SAU)/Abdulaziz Mashari (SAU) Toyota 4min 15.85sec
4. Ali Al-Ketbi (ARE)/Javied Waris (ARE) Nissan 4min 16.00sec
5. Saleh Abdullah (SAU)/Mohammed Nasser (SAU) Nissan 4min 17.64sec
6. Moteb Saud Al-Shammeri (SAU)/Ali Obaid (SAU) Nissan 4min 20.40sec
7. Khalid Al-Jafla (ARE)/Ahmad Malik (ARE) Polaris 4min 20.57sec
8. Ahmed Al-Gashimi (SAU) Nissan 4min 22.74sec
9. Ibrahim Al-Muhanna (SAU)/Osama Al-Sand (SAU) Nissan 4min 24.52sec
10. Khalaf Joan (SAU)/Joan Al-Shammeri (SAU) Toyota 4min 25.58sec
11. Rajah Al-Shammeri (SAU)/Mubarak Al-Shammeri (SAU) Nissan 4min 27.37sec
12. Motair Al-Shammeri (SAU)/Raed Al-Assaf SAU) Nissan 4min 28.39sec
13. Reza Lafe Al-Shammeri (SAU)/Fahed Lafe Al-Shammeri (SAU) Nissan 4min 29.01sec
14. Ahmed Al-Shammeri (SAU)/Mjali Al-Shammeri (SAU) Toyota 4min 29.40sec
15. Rakan Yousef Al-Sallum (SAU)/Sébastien Delaunay (FRA) Polaris 4min 30.07sec
16. Ahmed Al-Shegawi (SAU)/Nooh Buhumaid (ARE) Nissan 4min 31.19sec
17. Ahmed Al-Sabban (SAU)/Adel Hussein (QAT) Ford Raptor 4min 32.61sec
18. Firas Al-Mashna (SAU)/Rashid Al-Shamsi (SAU) Nissan 4min 33.71sec
19. Mohammed Al-Senaidi (SAU)/Abdulhamid Al-Senaidi (SAU) Nissan 4min 34.52sec
20. Yayha Ali Abdu (SAU)/Fahed Al-Sifani (SAU) Nissan 4min 34.88sec

1. Ahmed Al-Nasser (SAU) 4min 14.57sec
2. Abdulsalem-Rami Hamam (SAU) 4min 15.50sec
3. Mohammed Al-Darawish (SAU) 4min 32.84sec
4. Sultan Al-Masood (SAU) 4min 44.06sec
5. Abdulaziz Al-Hazlol (SAU) 4min 55.75sec

1. Abdul-Majeed Al-Khulaifi (SAU) 4min 15.48sec
2. Hamad Al-Hdayan (SAU) 4min 18.10.sec

Follow the rally live:




For further media information:
English: Neil Perkins, 2015 Ha’il Nissan International 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, 2015 Ha’il Nissan International Rally, National Press Officer, Mobile: + 962 777 282000, E-mail: nimrifiras@yahoo.com.

Date issued: 19/03/2015

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