CC Al-Rajhi, Al-Balooshi and Al-Tuwaijri claim category wins at Saudi Baja

SAUDI BAJA 2022 – HAIL (November 10-12, 2022)
FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Bajas, round 7 of 8
FIA Middle East for Cross-Country Bajas, round 3 of 4
FIM Bajas World Cup, round 7 of 8
Saudi Toyota Rally Championship, round 3 of 4

For immediate release
Saturday, November 12th, 2022


HAIL (SAUDI ARABIA): Yazeed Al-Rajhi, Mohammed Al-Balooshi and Haitham Al-Tuwaijri claimed victories in their respective car, motorcycle and quad categories at the three-day Saudi Baja 2022–Hail on Saturday afternoon.

The demanding final 183.42km Farhaniyah selective section to the west of Hail caused several major movements on the respective leader boards, with motorcycle front-runner Alex McInnes crashing out of his overnight advantage on two wheels and local driver Khaled Al-Feraihi losing fourth place in the car section with broken steering on the final day.
Al-Rajhi and his German co-driver Dirk von Zitzewitz dominated the car category in their Overdrive Racing Toyota Hilux and another stage win gave the Saudi a 24min 28sec cushion over Czech driver Miroslav Zapletal (Ford F-150 Evo) and his Slovakian navigator Marek Sykora. That enabled the Saudi to extend his lead in the Drivers’ Championship in the FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Bajas.

Co-driver Von Zitzewitz said: “As we expected it was not so easy. We were not sure how the desert would react with all this rain we have had. We took it quite easy in the first part. We did not want to risk anything stupid because we were lying in a good position. But, in the second part, we speeded up a little bit. There was some navigation involved and some soft dunes and nice climbs through a pass. It was quite challenging and many guys got trouble. Everything went well and Yazeed did a great drive. The Hilux worked well. It was a beautiful stage, a little bit short maybe, but it was a Baja and we are very happy that we could win this race.”

The South Racing Can-Am Team’s Fernando Alvarez and Xavier Panseri fulfilled their objective of finishing on the podium and a fine third place also earned them victory in the FIA T3 category and confirmed the championship title for the Spaniard.

Alvarez said: “We win the category and the championship. We win everything and I am also third overall in the (Baja) championship. We had a good feeling with the car and we see what we can do now in Dubai.”

Fourth overall and maximum FIA T4 points for Brazilian driver Cristiano de Sousa Batista means that he and Kuwait’s Meshari Al-Thefiri will go head-to-head in Dubai next month to decide the outcome of the Drivers’ Championship. Al-Thefiri finished at the rear of the field after first day electrical issues, while Eduard Pons was fifth overall and second in T4.

Aliyyah Koloc gave her hopes of winning the FIA Middle East Cup for Cross-Country Bajas a major boost by finishing sixth and second in T3, ahead of seventh-placed local driver Dania Akeel. Egidijus Valeiša, Hamed Al-Harbi and Mashael Al-Obaidan rounded off the top 10, with three female drivers registered in that top 10 for the first time.

Al-Harbi said: “Around 50km before the finish we broke the belt and it took a long time to remove it and we put a new belt on and we lost around 10 minutes. That’s why we dropped down to ninth and second in Middle East.”

Al-Obaidan added: “A wonderful rally with some bumpy sections. As usual, the organisers surprise us with great tracks.”

After losing a lot of time in the stage, Al-Feraihi managed to get his car back to Parc Fermé in Hail. Co-driver Sébastien Delaunay explained: “We hit a big bump and we broke the steering. We finished the first part of the stage but we arrived at the neutralisation and it was closed. We make more than 50% of the stage and got the car into Parc Fermé, so we lose a lot of time and are not in a good position in the overall classification but at least we score points in the Middle East and national championships.”

When overnight leader Alex McInnes crashed heavily and sustained a broken nose, wrist and a back injury, that opened the door for several rivals to challenge for victory in the motorcycle category.

The experienced Emirati Mohammed Al-Balooshi only finished fifth on the stage behind Abdullah Abu Aisheh, Abdulhalim Al-Mogheera and Abdullah Al-Shatti but that was enough for the TM rider and 2020 winner to win the Saudi Baja by 4min 24sec from Kuwait’s Al-Shatti.

After time penalties were later imposed, local rider Mishal Al-Ghuneim rounded off the podium finishers and Anass Al-Reheyani and Abu Aisheh completed the top five.

Abdulaziz Ahli won the day’s quad stage on his Yamaha YFZ 450 R but massive time penalties had dropped the Saudi out of contention for victory on Friday. Overnight leader Haitham Al-Tuwaijri managed to comfortably fend off his rivals to claim the win. Hani Al-Noumesi was a distant third after multiple champion Abdulmajeed Al-Khulaifi failed to finish.

Ahmed Al-Shammeri held on to confirm victory in the Saudi National Baja for cars. Ahmed Al-Ghashami and Motair Al-Shammeri rounded off the podium places.

Yasir Al-Khuraif won the National Baja for motorcycles from Bader Al-Bader, while Abdulaziz Al-Atawi topped the quads.

The seventh round of both the FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Bajas and the FIM Bajas World Cup, round three of the FIA Middle East Cup for Cross-Country Bajas and the third event in the Saudi Toyota Rally Championship was organised by the Saudi Automobile and Motorcycle Federation (SAMF), in conjunction with the Ministry of Sport and in partnership with Abdul Latif Jameel (ALJ) Motors.

Saudi Baja 2022-Hail (positions after Stage SS2 (unofficial):

1. Yazeed Al-Rajhi (SAU)/Dirk von Zitzewitz (DEU) Toyota Hilux Overdrive 4hr 18min 55sec
2. Miroslav Zapletal (CZE)/Marek Sykora (SVK) Ford F150 Evo 4hr 43min 23sec
3. Fernando Alvarez (ESP)/Xavier Panseri (FRA) Can-Am Maverick X3 (T3) 4hr 47min 55sec
4. Cristiano Batista (BRA)/Fausto Mota (PRT) Can-Am Maverick XRS Turbo RR (T4) 4hr 56min 27sec
5. Eduard Pons (ESP)/Mónica Plaza Vasquez (ESP) Can-Am Maverick XRS Turbo (T4) 4hr 59min 09sec
6. Aliyyah Koloc (ARE)/Stéphane Duplé (FRA) Buggyra Can-Am DV21 (T3) 4hr 59min 17sec
7. Dania Akeel (SAU)/Sergio Lafuente (URY) Can-Am Maverick X3 (T3) 5hr 03min 42sec
8. Egidijus Valeiša (LTU)/ Mindaugas Varža (LTU) Can-Am Maverick XRS Turbo (T4) 5hr 04min 00sec
9. Hamed Al-Harbi (SAU)/Dmytro Tsyro (UKR) Can-Am Maverick X3 (T3) 5hr 10min 07sec
10. Mashael Al-Obaidan (SAU)/Wouter Rosegaar (NLD) Can-Am Maverick X3 (T3) 5hr 19min 32sec
11. Saeed Al-Mouri (SAU)/Ata Al-Hmoud (JOR) Can-Am Maverick XRS Turbo (T4) 5hr 24min 00sec
12. Camelia Liparoti (ITA)/Taye Perry (ESP) Yamaha YXZ 1000R 5hr 54min 36sec
T1 unless stated

FIM Bikes
1. Mohammed Al-Balooshi (ARE) TM 450 5hr 41min 14sec
2. Abdullah Al-Shatti (KWT) Kawasaki KC 450 5hr 45min 38sec
3. Mishal Al-Ghuneim (SAU) Husqvarna 450 Rally 5hr 46min 02sec
4. Anass Al-Reheyani (SAU) KTM EXC F 450 5hr 46min 02sec
5. Abdullah Abu Aishah (JOR) KTM 450 Factory Rally 5hr 51min 25sec
6. Martin Chalmers (QAT) Honda CRF 450 5hr 54min 32sec
7. Makis Rees-Stavros (GBR) KTM EXC F 450 5hr 55min 02sec
8. Abdulhalim Al-Mogheera (SAU) KTM EXC 450 5hr 57min 53sec
9. Brett Hunt (GBR) Husqvarna FE 450 5hr 59min 22sec
10. Hussein Hassan (EGY) Beta 430 RR 7hr 10min 36sec
11. Othman Al-Ghfeli (SAU) Honda CRF 4540 R 7hr 11min 17sec
12. Salman Mohamed Farhan (BAH) Husqvarna FE 450 7hr 17min 52sec

FIM Quads
1. Haitham Al-Tuwaijri (SAU) Yamaha Raptor 700 6hr 09min 48sec
2. Abdulaziz Ahli (SAU) Yamaha YFZ 450R 31hr 22min 47sec
3. Hani Al-Noumesi (SAU) Yamaha Raptor 700 41hr 49min 11sec


For further information: www.saudi-championship.com

Date issued: 12/11/2022

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