Saudi Arabia’s Yazeed Al-Rajhi extended his advantage in the Ha’il International Rally after crushing the opposition in the first 256km selective section through the An Nafud desert region on Monday.
The Hummer driver, partnered by French co-driver Alex Winocq, stopped the clocks in a time of 2hrs 29min 18sec to reach the stage finish 19 minutes quicker than nearest rival Sami Al-Shammeri from the Saudi Isuzu team. Czech driver Miroslav Zapletal maintained second overall with the third quickest time in the second Hummer. “I am very happy with the performance of the car,” said Al-Rajhi, who is chasing his fourth victory in Ha’il. “The car is very fast and we have been really pushing hard in the stage. The only real drama was when we lost the intercom for the last 100km.” Sami Al-Shammeri duly climbed to third in the overall standings at the stage finish, near Qana, and fellow Saudis Farhan Abdullah Al-Shammeri, Meteb Saud Al-Shammeri and Ahmed Al-Shaqawi rounded off the unofficial top six.
Engine problems thwarted the challenge of Saudi Toyota FJ Cruiser driver Mtair Al-Shammeri before the start and Emirati Nooh bu Hmaid failed to start after suffering from electrical problems. Mtair is hoping to start the second selective section on Tuesday.
Saudi’s Ammar Al-Suhail and Abdul Al-Saleh stopped early in the special with mechanical problems and the UAE’s Matar Al-Mansoori was running well early in the stage before hitting trouble near the end. Saudi Arabia’s flagship FIA-sanctioned cross-country rally is taking place through the north-central region of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia until Thursday and five motorcycle riders and seven quad riders joined the field for the first time since the inaugural event ran in 2006.
Khalid Al-Falasi rode a solid stage to top the motorcycle and quad categories, the Emirati finishing the shorter motorcycle stage 2min 43sec in front of fellow countryman Atif Al-Zarouni – the first of the quad riders. Saudi Adel Al-Shaybani was third and overnight leader Rakan Al-Saloum finished fourth. The event is being staged under the patronage of His Royal Highness Prince Saud Bin Abdul Mohsen Bin Abdul Aziz, Governor of Ha’il, President of the Supreme Commission for Ha’il Development and the Head of the Supreme Commission of the Ha’il Rally. The SAMF runs under the chairmanship of His Royal Highness Prince Sultan Bin Bandar Al-Faisal and the event is being organised in conjunction with the High Authority for the Development of Ha’il. The second 258km desert selective section takes place on Tuesday and the competitive action finishes on Thursday with the finishing ceremony rounding off proceedings at 19.00hrs.
Positions after Leg 1 (unofficial):
1. Yazeed Al-Rajhi (KSA)/Alex Winocq (FRA) Hummer 2hrs 32min 37sec
2. Miroslav Zapletal (CZE)/Maciej Marton (POL) Hummer 2hrs 54min 55sec
3. Sami Al-Shammeri (KSA)/Abdullah Al-Shammeri (KSA) Isuzu D-Max 2hrs 55min 16sec
4. Farhan Abdullah Al-Shammeri (KSA)/Saleh Al-Shammeri (KSA) Toyota 3hrs 07min 53sec
5. Meteb Saud Al-Shammeri (KSA)/Abdullah Al-Eneyzen (KSA) Toyota 3hrs 08min 32sec
6. Ahmed Al-Shaqawi (KSA)/Arif Yousif Mohammed (UAE) Nissan 3hrs 10min 39sec, etc
1. Khalid Al-Falasi (UAE) 1hr 47min 46sec
2. Adel Al-Shaybani (KSA) 1hr 56min 46sec, etc
1. Atif Al-Zarouni (UAE) 1hr 50min 22sec
2. Rakan Al-Saloum (KSA) 2hrs 02min 06sec
3. Abdul Majid Al-Kholaifi (KSA) 2hrs 11min 23sec
4. Yousef Al-Daid (KSA) 2hrs 14min 05sec
5. Hamad Al-Haydan (KSA) 2hrs 17min 54sec
6. Moaataz Al-Jrabih (KSA) 2hrs 35min 01sec, etc
Press: Ha’il International Rally