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CC Al-Saif, Al-Balooshi and Al-Khulaifi seal victories at the Jordan Baja

2022 Jordan Baja
FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Bajas – round 2
FIA Middle East Cup for Cross-Country Bajas – round 1
FIM Bajas World Cup - round 1
February 17th-19th 2022

For immediate release
Saturday, February 19th, 2022

AL-SAIF, AL-BALOOSHI AND AL-KHULAIFI
SEAL VICTORIES AT THE JORDAN BAJA

• Al-Rajhi wins final car stage and finishes 12th; second place for Zapletal
• Al-Thefiri holds off Koolen to win T4 section; Aliyyah Koloc in fifth overall

AQABA (JORDAN): Saleh Al-Saif, Mohammed Al-Balooshi and Abdulmajeed Al-Khulaifi overcame indifferent weather conditions in Wadi Araba to claim outright victories in their respective car, motorcycle and quad categories at the Jordan Baja on Saturday.

Rain threatened to dampen spirits at the second round of the FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Bajas and the opening race in the FIM Bajas World Cup. But Al-Saif overcame the weather to become the first driver of a T3 lightweight prototype machine ever to win a round of the FIA Baja series, as Al-Balooshi secured his third successive motorcycle win in the Hashemite Kingdom.

Al-Saif and his Russian co-driver Egor Okhotnikov began the day with a lead of over six minutes in their Can-Am Maverick X3 but a hard-charging Miroslav Zapletal reduced that to just 2min 56.2sec at the finish. The Czech duly moved up to second place, with Kuwait’s Meshari Al-Thefiri slipping in front of South Racing Can-Am team-mate Kees Koolen to finish third and secure victory in the FIA T4 category.

The triumphant Al-Saif said: “We finished the Jordan Rally with an outstanding result. For the first time in a Baja race a T3 vehicle finishes first overall. It took a lot of work and preparation that started last year.”

T4 winner Al-Thefiri said: “We are very happy to claim the win. Today was a fantastic stage. We pushed to the maximum. Today was wonderful. It was a bit like Dubai, maybe like Hail. We would like to participate in Jordan in the Dakar Rally.”

Rival Koolen added: “For me, it was the first time in Jordan. It’s a very nice place. I didn’t expect it to be so nice. The tracks are perfect. It’s real rally-raid. Today was a lot more technical but we are pleased with the event and our finish.”

Seventeen-year-old Aliyyah Koloc delivered a stunning performance to round off the top five in her Buggyra ZM Racing Can-Am, the UAE girl finishing clear of Spain’s Fernando Alvarez, Pavel Silnov and Saeed Al-Mouri. Ninth-placed Dania Akeel and Armen Puzian rounded off the top 10.

Al-Rajhi recovered strongly from his first day drive shaft issue and was the class of the field on day two. He restarted ahead of his rivals and stormed through the stage in 2hr 01min 30.4sec to secure 12th overall.

“It was very good today,” said Al-Rajhi. “Everything went very well. It was difficult navigation but Michael (Orr) did a great job. We are happy. We had a good rhythm. Hopefully we can be better next time, but we learned a lot today.”

Inclement weather conditions greeted competitors to Wadi Araba, where Abdullah Abu Aishah and Al-Balooshi fought out their duel for motorcycle supremacy on the second 150.89km selective section. A one-minute time penalty for the Jordanian had reduced the overnight margin to just 40.6 seconds. Abdulhalem Al-Mogheera didn’t start the final stage.

The leaders rode in a group but lost their way on several occasions in the tricky conditions. Al-Balooshi was fourth quickest on the day, but the Emirati finished ahead of Abu Aishah and that was the critical factor that enabled the KTM man to snatch victory from the Jordanian by just 1min 16.7sec. It marked a third successive victory for Al-Balooshi in Jordan.

“I just had to reduce the gap today by riding with Abdullah to secure the win,” said Al-Balooshi. “That is what I did and I am very grateful. I stuck to the plan. Whenever you plan, and the plan comes together, it’s great. I was a bit nervous. I got lost so many times. Every time one new rider will tag along. Three wins in a row but the guys are training more and they know what it takes. I still haven’t recovered 100% from Dakar, but I am really happy.”

“I am happy with my result,” said runner-up Abu Aishah. “Today was very tricky. We finished in the end and that is perfect.”

Kuwait’s Abdullah Al-Shatti dropped time to Qatar-based Australian rider Martin Chalmers during the course of the day’s stage but had enough in the tank to secure third overall, with the Aussie coming home in fourth place.

A delighted Chalmers said: “I had a bit of an accident after 90km and lost all my electronics. I managed to get the tracks of the other guys and keep up a bit, but when they got lost I got lost. It was an awesome ride. Back from a broken ankle and this is the first international event I have ever finished.”

Abdulmajeed Al-Khulaifi began the final day with a lead of 2hr 04min 23sec in the quad category and the Saudi romped to an emphatic win. Rival Haitham Al-Tuwaijri failed to complete the opening leg and didn’t restart on Saturday.

The winning Yamaha rider said: “Thank god we finished first. The weather was spectacular. It was similar to Dakar stages. It was heavily raining, which made it difficult to see well. We ran into many difficulties, the steering broke, but we finished first.”

Al-Mashna and Hani Al-Shammeri were the unofficial winners of the Jordan National Baja in their Nissan Patrol. They finished 10min 37.5sec clear of Motab Al-Shammeri and Bader Al-Ajmi.

The event ran with official support coming from Mountain Dew, Budget, the Aqaba Special Economic Zone Authority (ASEZA), the Aqaba Development Corporation (ADC), Hala and Bliss FM.

2022 Jordan Baja – positions after Leg 2 (unofficial):
Cars

1. Saleh Al-Saif (SAU)/Egor Okhotnikov (RUS) Can-Am Maverick X3 6hr 34min 40.1sec
2. Miroslav Zapletal (CZE)/Marek Sykora (SVK) Ford F-150 Evo 6hr 37min 36.3sec
3. Meshari Al-Thefiri (KWT)/François Cazalet (FRA) Can-Am Maverick XRS Turbo 6hr 47min 25.2sec
4. Kees Koolen (NLD)/Wouter Rosegaar (NLD) Can-Am Maverick XRS Turbo 6hr 52min 13.9sec
5. Aliyyah Koloc (ARE)/Sebastien Delaunay (FRA) Can-Am Maverick DV21 6hr 54min 21.4sec
6. Fernando Alvarez (ESP)/Xavier Panseri (FRA) Can-Am Maverick X3 7hr 00min 24.4sec
7. Pavel Silnov (RUS)/Kirill Shubin (RUS) Can-Am Maverick X3 7hr 02min 34.8sec
8. Saeed Al-Mouri (SAU)/Sergio Lafuente (URY) Can-Am Maverick XRS Turbo 7hr 11min 25.1sec
9. Dania Akeel (SAU)/Laurent Lichtleuchter (FRA) Can-Am Maverick X3 7hr 17min 00.5sec
10. Armen Puzian (RUS)/Evgenii Zagorodniuk (RUS) Can-Am Maverick X3 7hr 20min 21.0sec
11. Cristiano Batista (BRA)/Vladimir Grunenberg (BRA) Can-Am Maverick XRS Turbo 7hr 20min 45.4sec
12. Yazeed Al-Rajhi (SAU)/Michael Orr (GBR) Toyota Hilux Overdrive 7hr 20min 55.8sec, etc

Motorcycles
1. Mohammed Al-Balooshi (ARE) KTM 450 Rally 8hr 42min 37.1sec
2. Abdullah Abu Aishah (JOR) KTM Rally Factory 8hr 43min 53.8sec
3. Abdullah Al-Shatti (KWT) KTM 450 Rally 8hr 49min 20.2sec
4. Martin Chalmers (AUS) Yamaha WR 450F 8hr 50min 18.9sec, etc

Quads
1. Abdulmajeed Al-Khulaifi (SAU) Yamaha Raptor 10hr 12min 35.5sec

Jordan National Baja
1. Al-Mashna Al-Shammeri (SAU)/Hani Al-Shammeri (SAU) Nissan Patrol 3hr 23min 43.0sec
2. Motab Al-Shammeri (SAU)/Bader Al-Ajmi (SAU) Nissan 3hr 34min 20.5sec
3. Hassan El-Kaeid (PSE)/Ameer Isibi (PSE) Mitsubishi Hunter 3hr 55min 26.8sec, etc

Ends

For further media information: Jordan Baja Media Service, E-mail: info@jordanrally.com.
www.jordanbaja.com

Facebook Group - Jordan Motorsport (الأردنية لرياضة السيارات)

Twitter: @motorsportjo
        

Date issued: 19/02/2022

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