SDC Al-Rajhi pips Sainz to fastest time on opening stage of Sharqiya Baja
SHARQIYAH BAJA 2019
Saudi Toyota Desert Rally Championship, round 5 – December 12th-14th, 2019
FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Bajas, candidate event
For immediate release
Thursday, December 12th, 2019
AL-RAJHI PIPS SAINZ TO FASTEST TIME ON OPENING STAGE OF SHARQIYA BAJA
HALF MOON BAY (Saudi Arabia): Saudi Arabia’s Yazeed Al-Rajhi beat two-time Dakar Rally champion Carlos Sainz by 1.2 seconds to claim the fastest time over an extended opening special stage of 6.34km at the Sharqiya Baja on Thursday afternoon.
Forty-nine cars, seven NUTVs, 14 motorcycles, 16 quads and one truck took the official start of the fifth and final round of the inaugural Saudi Toyota Desert Rally Championship on Half Moon Bay, near Al-Khobar.
Driving a Toyota Hilux alongside Ulster navigator Michael Orr, Al-Rajhi carded a time of 3min 59.4sec and will be first on the road when the competitive action switches to the open desert on Friday morning. Sainz and co-driver Lucas Cruz are using the event as a pre-Dakar shakedown in the first of two X-raid MINI Buggies.
Abu Dhabi Racing’s Sheikh Khalid Al-Qassimi finished the stage in third place, 7.9 seconds off the lead, while Czech Miroslav Zapletal and Al-Rajhi’s title rival Yasir Seaidan rounded off the top five.
ED Racing’s Essa Al-Dossari was the best of the rest in his Nissan Navara from Saleh Al-Abdelali’s seventh-placed Hummer and Ahmed Al-Shegawi in eighth.
Zimbabwe’s Conrad Rautenbach and Portuguese co-driver Pedro Bianchi Prata used their PH Sport Can-Am Zephyr for the first time in the T3 category and held ninth overall and an advantage of 4.7 seconds over 11th-placed Saleh Al-Saif at the end of the stage.
Salman Al-Shammeri posted the target of 5min 20.4sec in the T2 section for series production cross-country vehicles, but that was eclipsed by Yousef Al-Suwaidi’s run of 5min 12.6sec.
Ibrahim Al-Muhanna, Osama Al-Sanad and Raed Abo Theeb safely negotiated the short special in their T4 Mercedes, while Zakariya Al-Tuwaijri held a 2.6-second lead over Majed Al-Tuwaijri in the NUTVs.
Motorcycles tackled the stage first and Mishal Alghuneim set the target time of 5min 54.2sec on his KTM and that was enough to claim the fourth quickest time on two wheels. The stage win fell to Emirati rider Othman Al-Ghufeli on a Honda with a run of 5min 39.0sec. The Saudi duo of Mohammed Al-Muaikil and Fahad Al-Hijab were second and third.
Sufiyan Al-Omar laid down the gauntlet in the quad category with an unofficial opening stage of 4min 46.3sec and that was 8.9 seconds faster than the time set by title contender Abdulmajeed Al-Khulaifi. Abdullah Al-Shegawi completed the special in third, but Al-Khulaifi’s main series rival Riyadh Al-Oraifan dropped three minutes and came home in 16th.
The event is being organised by the Saudi Automobile and Motorcycle Federation (SAMF), under the chairmanship of H.R.H. Prince Khalid bin Sultan Al-Abdullah Al-Faisal and the supervision of former FIA Middle East champion Abdullah Bakhashab.
The new Baja runs with the support of the Saudi Automobile and Motorcycle Federation, the General Sport Authority, Abdul Latif Jameel Motors (Toyota), the MBC Group, Al-Arabia outdoors and the Saudi Research and Marketing Group. It is also being observed as an official candidate for future inclusion in the FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Bajas.
Inclement weather conditions and heavy rain on Tuesday and a poor forecast for the weekend forced Baja officials to make last minute changes to the weekend’s route through the desert. The service park was also moved at the 11th hour.
Tomorrow (Friday), competitors tackle a shortened selective section of 197.18km in place of the original 257.44km through the deserts of the Kingdom’s Eastern Province. Saturday’s final timed section has been reduced from 213.10km to 171.25km, so officials have lost around 100km of stage distance due to the weather.
Sharqiya Baja – positions after SSS1 (cars - unofficial):
1. Yazeed Al-Rajhi (SAU)/Michael Orr (GBR) Toyota Hilux Overdrive 3min 59.4sec
2. Carlos Sainz (ESP)/Lucas Cruz (ESP) MINI JCW Buggy 4min 00.6sec
3. Khalid Al-Qassimi (ARE)/Xavier Panseri (FRA) Peugeot 2008 4min 08.5sec
4. Miroslav Zapletal (CZE)/Marek Sykora (SVK) Ford F-150 Evo 4min 15.4sec
5. Yasir Seaidan (SAU)/Alexei Kuzmich (RUS) MINI JCW Buggy 4min 17.4sec
6. Essa Al-Dossari (SAU)/Sébastien Delaunay (FRA) Nissan Navara 4min 20.3sec
7. Saleh Al-Abdulali (SAU)/Wouter Rosegaar (NLD) Hummer 4min 22.7sec
8. Ahmed Al-Shegawi (SAU)/Waleed Al-Shegawi (SAU) Nissan Patrol 4min 37.6sec
9. Conrad Rautenbach (ZWE)/Pedro Bianchi Prata (PRT) Can-Am Zephyr (T3) 4min 47.8sec
10. Al-Mashna Al-Shammeri (SAU)/Mazan Al-Shammeri (SAU) Nissan 4min 51.0sec
11. Saleh Al-Saif (SAU)/Khalid Al-Marshood (SAU) Can-Am (T3) 4min 52.5sec
12. Mohammed Al-Tuwaijri (SAU) Ali Hassan Obaid (ARE) Toyota 4min 55.0sec
13. Khalid Al-Feraihi (SAU)/Stéphane Duplé (FRA) Nissan 4min 56.1sec
14. Mutair Al-Shammeri (SAU)/Hani Al-Shammeri (SAU) Nissan 5min 00.3sec
15. Ahmed Al-Malki (SAU)/Raed Al-Assaf (SAU) Nissan Patrol 5min 00.4sec
16. Sami Al-Shammeri (SAU)/Abdullah Al-Shammeri (SAU) Nissan 5min 01.1sec, etc
Sharqiya Baja – positions after SSS1 (NUTVs - unofficial):
1. Zakariya Al-Tuwaijri (SAU)/Ayman Al-Khuryef (SAU) Can-Am 4min 36.0sec
2. Majed Al-Tuwaijri (SAU)/Raed Al-Marziad (SAU) Can-Am 4min 38.6sec
3. Yousef Al-Dhaif (SAU)/Laurent Lichtleuchter (FRA) Can-Am 4min 41.4sec
4. Shaker Al-Tuwaijri (SAU)/Fahad Al-Otaibi (SAU) Can-Am 5min 04.1sec
5. Bader Abelkhail (SAU)/Suleyman Tonguc Salgar (TUR) Yamaha 5min 11.6sec, etc
Sharqiya Baja – positions after SSS1 (bikes - unofficial):
1. Othman Al-Ghufeli (ARE) Honda 5min 39.0sec
2. Mohammed Al-Muaikil (SAU) Honda 5min 48.8sec
3. Fahad Al-Hijab (SAU) KTM 5min 51.1sec
4. Mishal Algunheim (SAU) KTM 5min 54.2sec
5. Hashyan Al-Hashyan (SAU) Honda 6min 00.8sec, etc
Sharqiya Baja – positions after SSS1 (quads - unofficial):
1. Sufyan Al-Omar (SAU) Yamaha 4min 46.3sec
2. Abdulmajeed Al-Khulaifi (SAU) Yamaha 4min 55.2sec
3. Abdullah Al-Shegawi (SAU) Honda 4min 57.3sec
4. Rakan Al-Hababi (SAU) Yamaha 5min 15.1sec
5. Abdulkarim Al-Shegawi (SAU) Honda 5min 33.2sec, etc
Sharqiya Baja – positions after SSS1 (truck - unofficial):
1. Ibrahim Al-Muhanna/Osama Al-Sanad/Raed Abo Theeb (SAU) Mercedes 6min 12.3sec
Follow the race live - https://chronomoto.hu/livetiming/crosscountry/
For further media information: Neil Perkins, International Media Officer (English), Sharqiya Baja 2019, Tel: + 44 7831 123153, E-mail: email@example.com.