CC International teams arrive in Saudi Arabia for Hail Baja

SAUDI ARABIA HAIL BAJA  (Hail Rally 2008…The Great Nufud Challenge), February 11th-14th, 2008
2008 FIA International Cup for Cross-Country Bajas, round 1 of 6

For immediate release
Sunday, February 10th, 2008




Lebanon’s Saleh aims for the podium in Sheikh Suhail’s Land Rover

Qatar’s Al-Attiyah faces dash to Saudi Arabia from wintry Sweden

HAIL (Saudi Arabia): International rally drivers, co-drivers, FIA officials, mechanics and members of the media from the UK, Germany, Russia, Holland, Cyprus, France, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, Belgium, Hungary, the Czech Republic and countries within the GCC have arrived in Hail in the north-central region of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to make their final preparations for the Saudi Arabian Hail Baja.


The opening round of the 2008 FIA International Cup for Cross-Country Bajas is scheduled to get underway with a ceremonial start at the picturesque Maghwat conference facility, surrounded by the striking jagged peaks of the nearby mountain range, at 2pm on Tuesday afternoon.


The Russian crew of Boris Gadasin and Alexander Mironenko are the top seeds of the 48 crews taking part in the three-day desert event and arrived in Hail on Saturday evening from Moscow, via Doha and Jeddah, along with a senior representative of the 2008 Northern Forest Rally - a candidate event for this FIA Baja Championship that will run in two weeks time across the frozen wastelands around St. Petersburg.


“Our car (Nissan Navara) arrives today and members of our team from Overdrive Racing in Belgium are here,” admitted Mironenko. “We were greeted at the airport in Hail by Saudi representatives and all has gone very well. It is our first time here in Saudi Arabia and we are looking forward to seeing the Nufud desert.”


Dubai-based Team Saluki is spearheaded by England’s Mark Powell. He is seeded at 18 in a two-wheel drive Honda-engined Buggy with Lebanese co-driver Mario Mitri, who speaks Arabic, French, Italian and English. “We sent the car three or four days early to make sure there were no hold ups along the way,” said a relaxed Powell in Hail. “It arrived on Saturday. The trip from Dubai took three days. I was able concentrate on preparing for the race rather than stressing about the car. We are all really looking forward to this rally. You could run an entire Dakar Rally in Saudi Arabia! The potential is enormous.”


UAE-based Lebanese driver Michel Saleh is making his first visit to Hail and will drive a 4.6-litre Land Rover 110 that is owned by Sheikh Suhail Bin Khalifa Al-Maktoum in Dubai. “I have driven the car a couple of times before with Suhail and it was available for the Hail Rally,” said Saleh. “Nasser (Saleh Al-Attiyah) will be the favourite in the factory car, but I can take a top three finish. The deserts here are faster than the Desert Challenge and that should suit the power of my car.” Saleh’s detuned V8 develops around 310bhp and is fitted with a six-speed dog transmission.


Meanwhile, Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah and Chris Patterson faced a race against time to reach the start of the event, after taking part in the Swedish Rally, round two of the FIA World Rally Championship, which finished in Karlstad on Sunday afternoon. The pair will make several ‘plane changes to ensure that they are on time to wheel out the X-raid BMW X3CC at the start of the event in sunny Hail on Tuesday afternoon. Team mechanics are already in Hail to make final preparations for scrutineering and documentation, while team director Sven Quandt arrives from Germany on Monday.


The three-day event is being held under the patronage of HRH Prince Saud Bin Abdul Mohsen Bin Abdul Aziz, Governor of Hail, President of the Supreme Commission for Hail Development and the Head of the Supreme Commission of the Hail Rally and reaches its conclusion on Thursday afternoon (February 14th) at the Maghwat facility.


For further media information:

Neil Perkins, NDP Publicity Services, 2008 Hail Saudi Baja International Press Officer, Maghwat Conference Centre, Hail, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Tel: + 966 6 535 1456, Mobile: + 44 7831 123153, E-mail: ndppublicity@compuserve.com. www.ndp-publicity.com (press releases).





Date issued: 10/02/2008

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