CC Al-Rajhi overcomes early setback to finish 12th at the Jordan Baja
2022 Jordan Baja
FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Bajas, round 2
February 17-19, 2022
AL-RAJHI OVERCOMES EARLY SETBACK TO FINISH 12TH AT THE JORDAN BAJA
AQABA (JORDAN) – Saturday, February 19: Overdrive Racing’s Yazeed Al-Rajhi and Michael Orr battled back from early delays to finish 12th overall at the Jordan Baja, round two of the 2022 FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Bajas.
Having missed out on a chance to score valuable championship points in northern Russia last weekend, it was vital that the Toyota Hilux driver bounced back strongly in the Hashemite Kingdom. But a broken drive shaft after just 12km of the first stage through the spectacular Wadi Rum desert put the Saudi on the back foot.
He and his Ulster co-driver were able to repair the damage, after stopping in the stage for two hours, but any chance of claiming a podium finish was gone. Al-Rajhi attacked hard during the final day, winning the last stage through Wadi Araba by over six minutes, but the damage had been done and he had to settle for 12th place.
The Saudi said: “We had a good last stage and a strong finish to the race. Everything went very well. It was difficult navigation but Michael (Orr) did a great job. We had a good rhythm. Hopefully we can be better next time, but we learned a lot today.“
Orr added: “Yesterday was a disaster for us. It can happen in the sport. We lost two hours. But they gave us a good starting position today. It was the same problem in Russia last week but they tried to put us after a lot of slow guys and that was not safe, so we didn’t continue. It was a big challenge to open the road today. The navigation was really tricky. We passed all the bikes.
“We arrived first. It was a big challenge for me but a nice experience. When you have difficult navigation like this it’s like a good school and you learn a lot. We had some difficult weather conditions but I see rain like that at home all the time. We had a lot of rain at the start of the stage and towards the end. For the bikes and side-by-sides it’s more difficult. We have a comfortable car, so it’s not a big deal.”
Action was fought out over two days through the spectacular deserts in Wadi Rum and Wadi Araba. The first leg was split into two sections through the Rum deserts, with crews tackling an opening selective of 232.71km, followed by a short transfer zone before the second 81.97km stage.
Al-Rajhi’s chances of winning the event outright were ruined shortly after the start of the first section when he suffered a broken drive shaft and was forced to stop and make emergency repairs. The Saudi was able to finish the stage in 13th overall with the loss of 80 minutes but there were not enough kilometres left in the race to claw back the lost time
He said: “We broke a drive shaft after just 12km of the stage. We stopped for two hours to fix it and lost around 80 minutes on the stage. It took a long time to fix it. Finally, we were able to continue. It was bad luck and we need to be fast again on the last day.“
The Saudi recovered well to set the fastest time on the shorter second section and reached Aqaba in 12th place and only 63 minutes off the outright lead held by fellow countryman Saleh Al-Saif.
Sunday’s action switched to the new location of Wadi Araba, stretching from the Gulf of Aqaba to the southern shores of the Dead Sea, and teams tackled a 150.89km stage.
Inclement weather conditions were a far cry from the previous day, but failed to stop Al-Rajhi. The Saudi was the class of the field and stormed through the final kilometres to win the stage comfortably.
For further information:
Jean-Marc Fortin (E-mail: email@example.com), Overdrive S.A., rue de L’Enterprise 1, 4530 Villers-le-Bouillet, Belgium, Tel: + 32 475 762 391. www.overdriveracing.be, Facebook: Overdrive Racing, Twitter: @OverdriveToyota