CC Dutchman van Deijne wins Saudi Baja super special stage
SAUDI ARABIA HAIL BAJA (Hail Rally 2008 - The Great Nafud Challenge), February 11th-14th, 2008
2008 FIA International Cup for Cross-Country Bajas, round 1 of 6
For immediate release
Tuesday, February 12th, 2008
DUTCHMAN VAN DEIJNE SETS FASTEST TIME
IN SAUDI ARABIAN HAIL BAJA SPECIAL STAGE
Qatar’s Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah well-placed in second
Czech Zapletal holds third place; Russian Gadasin in fourth
HAIL (Saudi Arabia): The Dutch crew of Tonni van Deijne and Wouter Rosegaar set the fastest time of 2m 10s in the opening two kilometre super special stage of the 2008 Saudi Arabian Hail Baja, round one of the FIA International Cup for Cross-Country Bajas, which began over a sandy track on the outskirts of Hail on Tuesday afternoon.
The Mitsubishi L200 Pick-Up crew will now lead the international field from 13 countries into the first selective section across the Nafud desert on Wednesday. Qatar’s Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah and French co-driver Matthieu Baumel set the second fastest time in their BMW X3CC and Miroslav Zapletal and Miloslav Janacek were third in a Mitsubishi L200. “It’s a nice surprise to be leading,” said the Dutchman. “But there is a long way to go.”
“It was a long and tiring journey from Sweden,” admitted Al-Attiyah. “I must thank the Saudi club and Abdullah Bakhashab for his help in making it as painless as possible. We had to drive from Riyadh last night (around 650km) because there was no flight. But I made it in time and am looking forward to the next two days. We are very happy with the car and I feel that we have a great chance of winning this race.”
QMMF president Nasser Khalifa Al-Attiyah was keen to experience the Saudi event for himself, but he suffered a differential breakage on the super special stage, slipped to 16th place and is running against time to try and find a replacement to enable him to continue. “I always enjoyed rallying and have got myself physically in better shape for this event,” admitted Al-Attiyah, although his Ulster co-driver Chris Patterson confirmed that the crew would be struggling to continue on Wednesday.
Russian Boris Gadasin, Lebanon’s Michel Saleh and Hungarian Laszlo Palik were well-placed heading into the desert stages.
Thirty-three cars were permitted to start in the international section and 10 were entered in the Saudi Motorsport Committee National Baja Cup at the rear of the field for the start of Tuesday afternoon’s Hail super special stage. Saudi drivers Turki Al-Sudairy and Abdullah Al-Faresi and the UAE’s Abdullah Al-Ketbi were non-starters from the original list for the international event.
Those 10 Saudi entrants failed to pass scrutineering on the grounds that their safety cages did not meet exacting FIA standards. “It was not a surprise to be honest,” admitted race director Abdullah Bakhashab. “There was dispensation for these drivers to race last year but, now we are a round of the FIA Baja Cup, it was a firm no this time. These drivers now realise that they have to upgrade their cars next year to ensure that they comply with the rules.”
Dutchman Toni van Deijne made last minute travel arrangement to ensure that he could enter the Saudi Baja. “When the Dakar was cancelled it was a rush to get the car shipped here,” said van Deijne. “But it is a desert rally and the Arabic people have been very friendly to us. We don’t have the factory cars like Nasser and Boris, but I will be trying to finish as close to them as possible.”
Last year’s Saudi Hail Baja champion Rajeh Al-Shammeri has upgraded to a Mitsubishi Pajero this season and attracted local sponsorship. He set a time of 2m 58s in the super special stage. “Rajeh knows that it will be difficult to win the rally again,” admitted co-driver Mohammed Khashoggi. “But we have prepared as well as we can and will try our best.”
Tomorrow (Wednesday) marks the second leg of the Saudi Arabian Hail Baja and the first entry into the Nafud desert. Teams leave Maghwat at 06.10hrs and head towards the opening 91.73km road liaison section between Al Raodh and Jubbah. Competitors will be permitted to refuel at Al Nufood during a punishing first 298.85km selective section, which begins at 07.15hrs, before a 94.85km liaison returns teams to service and the overnight halt in Hail.
Event officials suggest that the opening 60km will cross rougher and bumpier terrain before a narrow track between small dunes and ditches takes crews to the second passage control. Tracks then give way to a series of stunning sand dunes and classic desert scenery, although recent rains have left patches of standing water on the route. The section reaches the stunning landmark Al Ulaim mountain at 155km and a series of narrow tracks then reach the refuelling point. Twisty trails and faster open terrain guides teams to the finish of the varied section.
“I cannot see anyone getting stuck on this first desert stage,” said Lebanon’s Michel Saleh, who is at the wheel of a Land Rover 110. “There has been a lot of rain and the sand is hard and compacted. I think the biggest problem will be damaging the car after a hard landing.”
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 at the Maghwat facility from 17.00hrs on Thursday afternoon (February 14th) after a second 187.96km selective section.
Positions after leg one (Hail super special - 2km – unofficial @ 17.30hrs):
1. Tonni van Deijne (NL)/Wouter Rosegaar (NL) Mitsubishi L200 2m 10s
2. Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah (QA)/Matthieu Baumel (F) BMW X3CC 2m 13s
3. Miroslav Zapletal (CZ)/Miloslav Janacek (CZ) Mitsubishi L200 2m 21s
4. Boris Gadasin (RU)/Alexander Mironenko (RU) Nissan Navara Pick-Up 2m 24s
5. Michel Saleh (RL)/Joseph Matar (RL) Land Rover 110 2m 28s
6. Emil Khneisser (RL)/Mohab Mahrous (SYR) Ford 150 Buggy 2m 31s
7. Abdullah Al-Herais (UAE)/Abdelhaleem Zayed (UAE) Nissan Patrol 2m 34s
8. Laszlo Palik (H)/Gabor Darazsi (H) Nissan Navara Pick-Up 2m 37s
9. Saleh Al-Shodokhi (KSA)/Abdullah Al-Nashmi (KSA) Nissan Patrol 2m 41s
10. Yayha Al-Helai (UAE)/Khaled Al-Kendi (UAE) Nissan Patrol 2m 42s
11. Metab Al-Ghunoon (KSA)/Sulaiman Al-Sanini (KSA) Nissan Patrol 2m 43s
11. Saleh Al Hout (KSA)/Mohammed Al-Kailani (KSA) Nissan Patrol 2m 43s
13. Farhan Al-Galeb (KSA)/Abdullah Al-Ghunoon (KSA) Toyota Land Cruiser 2m 44s
14. Salah Bin Eidan (KWT)/Meshal Al-Nejadi (KWT) Nissan Patrol 2m 45s
15. Mark Powell (UAE)/Mario Mitri (RL) Honda Buggy 2m 46s
16. Nasser Khalifa Al-Attiyah (QA)/Chris Patterson (GB) Land Rover 110 2m 47s
Note: Latest results for legs two and three on Wednesday and Thursday will be accessible via an internet link on:- www.hailbajarally.com/english
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: firstname.lastname@example.org. www.ndp-publicity.com (press releases).