Qatar Baja 2023: QMMF announces second rouds of FIM and FIA Baja Cups

The 2023 Qatar International Baja will be a counting round of both the FIA World and Middle East Cups for Cross-Country Bajas and round two of the FIM Bajas World Cup. The Qatar Motor and Motorcycle Federation (QMMF) has announced the event will take place on March 15th-18th.

The Baja will be based close to the QMMF offices at Lusail Sports Arena. The customary service park will be located nearby and the venue will also host administration checks and technical scrutineering.

The 2023 Baja will again run under the chairmanship of QMMF President Abdulrahman Al-Mannai, QMMF’s Executive Director Amro Al-Hamad and board member Abdulrazaq Al-Kuwari.

Subject to FIA and FIM approval, the event will run over two legs of 251.18km and 239.43km.

After a Prologue stage of 10.02km, which will take place around 16km north of the service park close to the Al-Bayt Stadium, on Thursday afternoon (March 16th) from 15.00hrs, FIA competitors will attend the ceremonial start from 20.00hrs.

They will then tackle two competitive sections of 120.43km and 120.73km on Friday, March 17th. FIM competitors will tackle a single selective section – the two FIA stages run in reverse order – for a total of 248.19km.

Saturday’s single selection section of 239.43km will be divided into four competitive sections of 34.44km, 29.03km, 44.15km and 125.27km by transfer zones to complete a total route of 836.14km, including liaison sections. The podium finish will take place from 19.00hrs.

Final details for the revised FIM event will be released in due course.

The Baja was a counting round of both the FIA Middle East and FIM series’ for the first time in 2022. Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah and Mathieu Baumel won the car category for the seventh time together in a Toyota Hilux, while young Pole Konrad Dabrowski dominated the motorcycle category and Saudi Arabian rider Abdulmajeed Al-Khulaifi topped the quad class.

T3 and T4 success in the FIA event went to WRC star Kris Meeke and local driver Khalifa Saleh Al-Attiyah in their respective Can-Ams.

Entries are now open and close on Wednesday, March 1st.

The QMMF is offering generous concessions to competitors who pass both administration and scrutineering checks. Entrants in the FIA car, T3 and T4 categories from the GCC will be offered a shipping allowance of $3,000, with international entrants receiving $6,000. GCC motorcycle and quad riders will be eligible for $1,500 and $3,000 will be offered to international riders.

In addition, entry fees will be returned to competitors who pass technical checks and are included in the official start lists. Early bird competitors registering before Wednesday, February 15th will receive an additional 1,000 QAR.

The QMMF will also book economy class return tickets for drivers and co-drivers after entry fees have been paid and a twin hotel room with breakfast will be offered for five nights.

For further event information, competitors and teams can contact Davy Patterson, Competitor Liaison Officer (CRO), Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and WhatsApp: +44 7980 613944.

For general information about the 2023 Qatar International Baja, contact the Qatar Motor and Motor Cycle Federation (QMMF), P.O. Box 8708, Doha, Qatar, Tel: + 974 443 79885, Fax: + 974 443 79732, E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and

Valid for:

  • FIA World and Middle East Cups for Cross-Country Bajas, round 2
  • FIM Bajas World Cup, round 2

 Sportity App – passwords FIAQIB23 and FIMQIB23

Source QMMF

Ha'il Baja 2023: South Racing CAN-AM Team Mavericks seal four of top five places in T3 category

Yasir Seaidan seals maximum points in FIA Middle East Cup for Cross-Country Bajas
Defending FIA T4 champion Cristiano Batista recovers from crash to win final stage

South Racing Can-Am Team Mavericks filled four of the top five places in the FIA T3 lightweight prototype category at the Saudi Baja-Hail, round one of the FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Bajas, with local driver Yasir Seaidan missing out on victory by just nine seconds and having the consolation of topping the standings in the FIA Middle East Cup for Cross-Country Bajas.
The South Racing Can-Am Team entered six Mavericks in the FIA T3 section and two in T4. Five of the T3 machines filled second, third, fourth, fifth and 10th in the final classification.
Yasir Seaidan teamed up with Alexei Kuzmich and led the T3 category after the first selective section of 230km that was held in bright, chilly conditions in the An Nafud desert, near Hail. But a couple of costly navigational errors on the second stage proved expensive for the Saudi and he was pipped to overall T3 glory by fellow countryman Saleh Al-Saif by just nine seconds. His consolation was a fine fifth place in the overall classification and the lead in the FIA Middle East Cup for Cross-Country Bajas.

“We were unlucky,” said Seaidan. “We lost our way in one part and we lost three minutes and a half. Then we pushed and took two minutes but we finished second by nine seconds!”

Defending FIA T3 World Cup Bajas champion Fernando Alvarez again teamed up with French co-driver Xavier Panseri to finish sixth overall and third in the T3 category. The Conarpesa-backed driver said: “It was good for us. We were third in the category but Seaidan is competing in the national championships and we will get the points for the second. Saif is a strong local driver, so I think this was the best result we could get here. I am happy for that.”

Last year’s championship runner-up Dania Akeel recruited the services of French co-driver Laurent Lichtleuchter again and delivered another impressive performance to reach the finish in eighth overall and fourth in T3.

She said: “We finished. I had a great time and it was a fun race with a lot of dunes, bumps and fast places. It was really similar to last year’s round but it looked completely different. It was green in places. Last year it was raining and dark.”

Brazilian Otavio Sousa and Portuguese co-driver João Ferreira finished 11th and were sixth in T3 in their South Racing Can-Am.
Spaniard Diego Martinez and Uruguayan team-mate Sergio Lafuente managed to reach the finish in their T3 car, but fuel pump issues side lined Meshari Al-Thefiri and Oriol Vidal after day one.

In T4, Brazil’s Cristiano de Sousa Batista and Portugal’s Fausto Moto blotted their copybook after a crash on stage one. They were penalised heavily for the time delay and trying to finish the stage on three wheels but the defending FIA T4 Bajas champion had the consolation of setting the fastest time on the last stage.
Saeed Al-Mouri’s Can-Am was struck by a rock on the first stage and the impact shattered the car’s windscreen. With tiny shards of glass affecting the Saudi’s vision, he and Jordanian co-driver Ata Al-Hmoud did not finish the day’s action and incurred time penalties. But they recovered well on Saturday to finish eighth in T4 without a windscreen, as they bid for success in the Saudi Toyota Rally Championship and the FIA Middle East Cup.
Competitive action got underway with a Prologue stage that was extended from three-kilometres to 4.08km. South Racing-built Can-Ams filled five places in the overall top 10, with Batista topping the T4 section in third overall, ahead of fellow countryman Otavio Sousa, who held fourth place and second in T3. Kuwait’s Al-Thefiri rounded off the top three in the T3 classification.
The first of two selective sections through the neighbouring deserts started at Jubbah and ran for 230km in chilly conditions to the west of Hail across rolling desert, gravel tracks and some sand dunes.

Al-Thefiri hit technical trouble before the stage, The Kuwaiti said: “After service, we started the road section and, after 25km, the fuel pump died. After 10km, the spare one also died and we came back. We find some connector problem and we didn’t have the parts and, once we had fixed it, it was too late.”

Prologue winner Batista dropped over 35 minutes after rolling on the stage, with young Spaniard Pau Navarro snatching the outright T4 lead.

In T3, Seaidan drove one of the best stages of his career to snatch the category lead and third overall. He returned to Hail clear of Al-Saif, Alvarez and Akeel, the latter benefitting from a revised set-up on her Can-Am.

“It was a good stage, the best ever,” said Seaidan. “We were fast from the beginning and we continued pushing to the end. We didn’t have the top speed but it was a good day and a good start to the Middle East programme.”

While Seaidan and Al-Saif battled for victory in T3, several crews concentrated on overcoming the tricky navigation in the final stage. Batista managed to set the quickest time in T4, but Seaidan missed out on the overall win and Akeel earned the second quickest T3 time of the day behind Al-Saif.
The South Racing Can-Am Team receives valuable support for the race programme from Method Wheels, Tensor Tires, Motul, Bell, Jjuan Brake Systems, Lazer and OMP.
The FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Bajas continues in Qatar in mid-March, while the team’s immediate attention switches to the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge, round two of the FIA World Rally-Raid Championship, at the end of the month.

Saudi Baja-Ha’il – FIA T3 standings:
1. Saleh Al-Saif (SAU)/Nasser Al-Kuwari (QAT) Can-Am Maverick X3 4hr 33min 28sec
2. Yasir Seaidan (SAU)/Alexei Kuzmich (ARE) South Racing Can-Am Maverick X3 4hr 33min 37sec
3. Fernando Alvarez (ESP)/Xavier Panseri (FRA) South Racing Can-Am Maverick X3 4hr 39min 59sec
4. Dania Akeel (SAU)/Laurent Lichtleuchter (FRA) South Racing Can-Am Maverick X3 4hr 42min 49sec
5. Kees Koolen (NLD)/Wouter Rosegaar (NLD) G Rally Team OT3 4hr 43min 30sec

Saudi Baja-Hail – FIA T4 standings:
1. Pau Navarro (ESP)/Michael Metge (FRA) Can-Am Maverick XRS Turbo 4hr 47min 35sec
2. Jeremie Warnia (FRA)/Loic Minaudier (FRA) Polaris RXR Pro R 4hr 43min 32sec
3. Michele Cinotto (ITA)/Maurizio Dominella (ITA) Polaris RXR Pro R 4hr 54min 53sec
4. Ricardo Ramilo Suarez (ESP)/Andrei Rudnitskiy (ANA) Can-Am Maverick XRS Turbo 4hr 55min 45sec
5. Salem Al-Dhafeeri (KWT)/Arif Yousef Mohammed (ARE) Can-Am Maverick XRS Turbo 6hr 05min 06sec


Source South Racing

Ha'il Baja 2023: Saudi Baja: Strong third place for Holowczyc

Nothing forgotten about driving in the desert
Exciting Baja around Ha'il

Just two weeks after the Dakar Rally ended on 15 January 2023, the X-raid team returned to Saudi Arabia. The Saudi Baja, the first event in the FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Bajas, was on the agenda. The two Poles Krzysztof Holowczyc and Lukasz Kurzeja competed in the MINI JCW Rally Plus and secured third place.

In recent years, Holowczyc had concentrated on European Bajas. With the Saudi Baja, he returned to the desert after a long absence. The Pole showed right from the start that he has not forgotten how to drive on sand and in the dunes.

It was an exciting Baja around Ha'il for Holowczyc and Kurzeja: In the prologue, the two missed a waypoint due to a communication error and received a two-minute time penalty. In Friday's special stage, a competitor was involved in an accident with another vehicle. Holowczyc and Kurzeja stopped to help. Later they got the lost time credited back. So they started the last stage as second overall and were able to keep this position at first. However, they were going too fast in a speed limit zone and received a 15-minute time penalty. This caused them to drop to third place in the overall standings.

Krzysztof Holowczyc
: "We are happy with third place. Even though it is disappointing that we lost second position. I haven't raced in the desert for eight years. I first had to find the right pace and get to know the dunes again. For Lukasz it actually was the first time ever."

The MINI JCW Rally Plus will remain on the Arabian Peninsula after the Saudi Baja. The next rally for the X-raid team is the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge at the end of February.


Saudi Baja – overall standings
1. N. Al-Attiyah / M. Baumel – Toyota – 3h 56m 17s
2. J. Yacopini / D. Oliveras – Toyota – 4h 15m 19s
3. K. Holowczyc / L. Kurzeja – MINI JCW Rally Plus – 4h 26m 36s
4. S. Alsaif / N. Alkuwari – Can-Am – 4h 33m 28s
5. Y. Seaidan / A. Kuzmich – Can-Am – 4h 33m 37s

Source X-Raid

Ha'il Baja 2023: Al-Attiyah and Al-Balooshi confirm car and motorcycle class wins at Saudi Baja-Hail

Haitham Al-Tuwaijri retains his Saudi Baja quad title on a Yamaha
Saudi’s Saleh Al-Saif and Spaniard Pau Navarro win FIA T3 and T4 categories

Qatar’s Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah and Emirati rider Mohammed Al-Balooshi confirmed victories in the car and motorcycle categories at the 2023 Saudi Baja-Hail on Saturday.

The overnight leading Toyota Hilux star and his French co-driver Mathieu Baumel were fastest on the second 184km selective section on a chilly Saturday morning and sealed victory by the winning margin of 15min 19sec on the opening round of the FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Bajas.

Al-Balooshi came home in fifth place on the day’s motorcycle stage – with the day’s win falling to Canada’s Jonathan Finn – but the MX Ride Dubai rider had done enough to clinch the win on the opening round of the FIM Bajas World Cup by 21min 09sec.

Saudi rider Haitham Al-Tuwaijri overhauled first day leader Abdulaziz Ahli to snatch quad success, while Saudi Can-Am driver Saleh Al-Saif won the FIA T3 section for lightweight prototype vehicles and young Spaniard Pau Navarro prevailed in the FIA T4 class.

Al-Attiyah had taken a 7min 42sec lead into the final day, once a series of time penalties had been imposed on several of his rivals, and the Toyota driver won the second stage by 5min 27sec to continue his dominant start to the season in the cross-country rallying discipline and follow up a fifth Dakar triumph with more Saudi success.

Al-Attiyah said: “This is a good start. We were happy to compete here and to win here another time. The target now is Abu Dhabi, where we will face Loeb and the Audis. All good over the last two days, no problems.”

Polish rival Krzysztof Holowczyc was second quickest in his X-raid Mini John Cooper Works Rally Plus with co-driver Lukasz Kurzeja and did enough to finish as runner-up on his first desert rally for eight years.

The Pole said: “The beginning was not so easy. We were last on the Prologue and I am used to be fighting for the win. We finished second although it is not easy to understand the regulations sometimes. I am happy to finish second. We were testing some new things on the car and that was important for us. The car is getting faster and we will find more in the next races. The suspension is unbelievable. I saw a big hole and the was flying, perfect. This is the advantage of T1+. We have a good car for the next races.”

Al-Attiyah’s Toyota team-mate Juan Cruz Yacopini recovered strongly from a collision with a spectator’s car at the end of Friday’s stage and had been reinstated in third overall by rally officials before the start of the final day. The Argentine took full advantage of the Stewards’ decision to reimburse him with 15 lost minutes and he and Spanish navigator Daniel Oliveras were third quickest to confirm the final place on the podium.

Yacopini said: “After what happened yesterday, today was a really good stage. I feel really comfortable. The navigation was not easy but Dani made it perfectly. The car was perfect also and third place is my first podium in the Bajas. Now I go to Abu Dhabi in the next two weeks. It is a perfect warm-up.”

On-stage delays for Yasir Seaidan enabled Team Black Horse Can-Am driver Al-Saif to snatch fourth overall and the T3 win from his fellow countryman by just nine seconds. Defending champion Fernando Alvarez came home in sixth overall, third in the class and picked up T3 points for second in the FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Bajas.

Al-Saif’s co-driver Nasser Al-Kuwari was competing in Hail for the first time. The Qatari said: “I am proud of this result. I missed the people, the stages and the rally here in the past. After 40km, it was a tricky place and we saw Yasir coming from the opposite way, lost. We let him pass and we drive behind for about 100km. Then we stopped to change the belt, cut every corner to reach the finish and we won by nine seconds! It was really close.”

A frustrated Seaidan claimed maximum points in the FIA Middle East Cup. He said: “We were unlucky. We lost our way in one part and we lost three minutes and a half. Then we pushed and took two minutes but we finished second by nine seconds...”

Young Spaniard Pau Navarro and his French co-driver Michael Metge were second quickest in T4 on the day, but that result was sufficient for the FN Speed Team Can-Am driver to clinch T4 success and seventh overall. Brazilian Cristiano Batista won the day’s stage but suffered massive time penalties after crashing and running his Can-Am on three wheels on Friday.

Behind eighth-placed local driver Dania Akeel, the French duo of Jeremie Warnier and Loic Minaudier were second in T4 and ninth overall in a Polaris RXR Pro R. Brazil’s Otavio Sousa rounded off the top 10 and finished fifth in T3.

Local favourite Khalid Al-Feraihi is taking part in the FIA Middle East Cup for Cross Country Bajas but suffered long delays and time penalties on the opening day with alternator failure on his Nissan and finished at the rear of the field.

With Al-Balooshi sealing a third motorcycle win in Hail by setting the fifth quickest time, his brother Sultan looked set to snatch second overall for the MX Ride Dubai team after Jordanian Abdullah Abu Aishah dropped over 38 minutes to the leading group after getting lost. But numerous time penalties were imposed on several riders inside the top 10 for waypoint violations and Sultan slipped back to 10th.

“Today we opened the stage and I was really happy with my navigation,” said the triumphant Al-Balooshi. “I had really decent navigation and a good pace. Nobody catch me. I was really happy. I knew when you open the route that there is a big opportunity that the guys from behind will catch you. But I focused up front, I did my job, one kilometre at a time and it paid off and I arrived with a big back.”

Qatar-based Australian Martin Chalmers finished second on his Beta 450. Missed waypoint time penalties had ruined Alex McInnes’s challenge on Friday, but the young Briton recovered well to seal top Junior honours and third place.

The day’s stage-winning Jonathan Finn came home in fourth overall, local rider Mishal Al-Ghuneim was fifth and a disappointed Abu Aisheh finished sixth.

Abu Aisheh said: “Today, I got lost at km40. I missed a waypoint and I went back to find it and lost 25 minutes. I didn’t find it an I jumped to the next waypoint and I continued. I lost the win.”

Emirati Hamdan Al-Ali, Great Britain’s Brett Hunt, Australian Andrew Houilhan and Sultan Al-Balooshi rounded off the top 10, after Kuwait’s Abdullah Al-Shatti suffered further time penalties and slipped down the rankings.

Abdulaziz Al-Yaeesh and Omar Al-Lahim held on to seal victory in the Saudi National Baja in their Nissan Patrol. Al-Mashna Al-Ramali and Rady Al-Shammeri were second
The Baja was managed by the Saudi Motorsport Company, in conjunction with the Saudi Automobile and Motorcycle Federation (SAMF) and the Ministry of Sport and in partnership with Abdul Latif Jameel (ALJ) Motors.

2023 Saudi Baja-Hail – positions after SS2 (unofficial @ 14.35rs
1. Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah (QAT)/Mathieu Baumel (AND) Toyota Hilux Overdrive 3hr 56min 17sec
2. Krzysztof Holowczyc (POL)/Lukasz Kurzeja (POL) Mini John Cooper Works Rally Plus 4hr 11min 36sec
3. Juan Cruz Yacopini (ARG)/Daniel Oliveras (ESP) Toyota Hilux Overdrive 4hr 15min 19sec
4. Saleh Al-Saif (SAU)/Nasser Al-Kuwari (QAT) Can-Am Maverick (T3) 4hr 33min 28sec
5. Yasir Seaidan (SAU)/Alexei Kuzmich (ARE) Can-Am Maverick X3 (T3) 4hr 33min 37sec
T1 unless stated

Bikes (top 5)
1. Mohammed Al-Balooshi (ARE) KTM 450 Rally 5hr 43min 30sec
2. Martin Chalmers (AUS) Beta 450 6hr 05min 34sec
3. Alex McInnes (GBR) Husqvarna FE 450 6hr 12min 06sec
4. Jonathan Finn (CAN) Honda CRF 450 RL 6hr 16min 13sec
5. Mishal Al-Ghuneim (SAU) KTM 450 Rally 6hr 28min 17sec

1. Haitham Al-Tuwaijri (SAU) Yamaha Raptor 700 6hr 16min 10sec
2. Abdulaziz Ahli (ARE) Yamaha Raptor 700 6hr 17min 07sec
3. Hani Al-Noumesi (SAY) Yamaha Raptor 700 8hr 19min 41sec

Valid for:

  • FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Bajas, round 1
  • FIA Middle East for Cross-Country Bajas, round 1
  • Saudi Toyota Desert Rally Championship, round 1
  • FIM Bajas World Cup, round 1


Source: Saudi Baja-Hail official press release


ADDC 2023: Anticipation builds ahead of World Championship action at the Abu Dahbi Desert Challenge

 The excitement of the World Rally-Raid Championship (W2RC) is heading for the heart of the UAE capital, with the 32nd edition of the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge (ADDC) getting underway on February 25th.

Long-time Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge organisers, the Emirates Motorsports Organisation (EMSO), brought the ADDC to the inaugural W2RC season in 2022, and are excited to present an all-new version of the event to the rally-raid community this year.

Khalid Bin Sulayem, the EMSO President, commentedDespite only entering its second season, the World Rally-Raid Championship has already surpassed its counterparts to represent the highest level of the sport. The FIA and FIM joining forces for the first time to create this championship was an exciting time in the cross-country rally world, and we are thrilled to be a part of the story. The Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge brings a lot of its own history to the championship, and it continues to grow and adapt under the EMSO’s supervision. The thriving city of Abu Dhabi convenes with tradition and ancient terrain to make a rally that is both glamorous and technical – and we look forward to seeing what history is made this time around.”

This year’s ADDC will be the most challenging yet as the EMSO raises the stakes. The competitors will have an even longer route to tackle, taking on 237 kilometres more than in 2022 for an intimidating total of 2170 kilometres.

The formidable route takes the competitors away from HQ, which will be situated in the heart of the vibrant city of Abu Dhabi, closer to the public where all in attendance can experience the beating heart of the Middle East.

Amongst these competitors will be the lucky winners of the “Road to Dakar.” Organised by the ASO as part of the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge, the “Road to Dakar” is open to rookies in both the FIM Rally 2 and FIA SSV T4. The winning competitors from these categories will be awarded with free registration in the same category in the 2024 Dakar Rally as the ASO and EMSO look to encourage young talent in the sport.

While Nasser Al-Attiyah was crowned Dakar champion again this year, it is Sébastien Loeb who tops the provisional standings in the W2RC by 2 points. On the bikes, Kevin Benavides made his comeback after zero points in the Dakar last season to top the championship standings as the competitors now make their way to Abu Dhabi.

With expectations for this year’s rally riding high, join what promises to be an action-packed Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge by visiting the event’s official website ( and registering by 13 February 2023.

Valid for:



Source Abu Dabhi Desert Challenge