Qatar International Baja 2023: Strength in depth across all motorcycles classes at Qatar Baja

  • Al-Balooshi brings five-point FIM Bajas World Cup lead to Qatar Baja
  • 14 Veterans, four Juniors and four Women set for FIM motorcycle tussle
  • Lusail Boulevard to host ceremonial start on Thursday evening

In terms of numbers and strength in depth across the different classes, this week’s Qatar International Baja is the largest ever to be hosted by the Qatar Motor and Motorcycle Federation (QMMF) since 33 bikes tackled the event back in November 2004, with victory on that occasion falling to UAE-based German rider Tim Trenker on a KTM
This week, 51 motorcycles and four quads grace the entry list for the second round of the 2023 FIM Bajas World Cup.
MX Ride Dubai has entered four motorcycles in Qatar and the team’s lead rider Mohammed Al-Balooshi will be hoping to repeat his recent Saudi victory and extend his early lead in the FIM Bajas World Cup. The Emirati has mixed memories of his previous visits to Qatar for the longer Cross-Country Rally and knows full well how tricky the navigation is and how deceptive the terrain can be.
His brother Sultan is 10th in the championship standings and rides a second team bike alongside fellow Emirati Marwan Al-Rahmani and Kuwait’s Abdullah Al-Shatti. Jordan’s Abdullah Abu Aisheh is not present on this occasion.
Qatar-based Australian Martin Chalmers is seeded at two after finishing second to Al-Balooshi in Saudi Arabia, while Briton Alex McInnes is third in the points’ standings after round one and starts at three.
Talented Polish rider Konrad Dabrowski claimed overall victory in last year’s Qatar International Baja and this year’s fourth seed is also the pre-event favourite to win the FIM Juniors’ class for riders under 25-years-old on January 1st, 2023. He comes into the weekend as both the defending FIM Bajas World Cup and Junior Champion.
Konrad’s closest Junior rival may well be McInnes, who leads the Junior section on his Motozone Husqvarna after finishing second in the championship last season. Canadian Jonathan Finn and Italy’s Alessandro Iacovelli will also be chasing points in Juniors.
The experienced KTM rider Mirjam Pol is the defending FIM Women’s World Champion and leads three rivals into a tussle for honours in Qatar. The Dutch girl lines up against last year’s runner-up, Poland’s Joanna Modrzewska, Kuwait’s Sarah Khuraibet and Great Britain’s Vanessa Ruck, the latter riding a Honda CRF 450 RX.
Fourteen riders are eligible to score points in the FIM Veterans category for over 45s. Australia’s Andrew Houlihan leads the class after his useful ninth-place finish in Saudi Arabia but competition will be intense in the Qatar deserts.
The Husqvarna rider faces a six-strong Italian challenge from Cesare Zacchetti, Francesco Catanese, Fabrizio Macchitella, Alberto Bertoldi, Elio Aglioni and Enrico Tanganelli, while Britain’s Barry Howe also holds European hopes of success alongside Norway’s Ola Floene.
The Qatari trio of Sheikh Mohammed Al-Thani, Mahanna Rashid Al-Naimi and Mohammed Al-Kaabi, South Africa’s Jaco Anderson and Emirati rider Mohammed Al-Shamsi round off the runners eligible for the Veterans’ category.
The competitive action gets underway with a Prologue stage on Thursday from 14.15hrs onwards. This precedes the ceremonial start at a new location on Lusail Boulevard, starting with the motorcycles and quads from 19.30hrs.

2023 Qatar International Baja – leading entries:

FIM – Bikes (top 10)
1. Mohammed Al-Balooshi (ARE) KTM 450 Rally Replica
2. Martin Chalmers (AUS) Beta 430 RR
3. Alex McInnes (GBR) Husqvarna FE450
4. Konrad Dabrowski (POL) KTM 450 Rally
5. Jonathan Finn (CAN) Honda CRF 450 RL
6. Mishal Al-Ghuneim (SAU) KTM 450 Rally
7. Hamdan Al-Ali (ARE) KTM 450
8. Brett Hunt (GBR) Husqvarna FE450
9. Andrew Houlihan (AUS) Husqvarna FR
10. Sultan Al-Balooshi (ARE) TBA

FIM - Juniors
3. Alex McInnes (GBR) Husqvarna FE450
4. Konrad Dabrowski (POL) KTM 450 Rally
5. Jonathan Finn (CAN) Honda CRF 450 RL
49. Alessandro Iacovelli (ITA) Husaberg 350 FE

FIM - Women
28. Mirjam Pol (NLD) KTM
30. Joanna Modrzewska (POL) KTM 450 Rally
31. Sarah Khuraibet (KWT) Husqvarna FE 450
41. Vanessa Ruck (GBR) Honda CRF 450 RX

FIM - Veterans
9. Andrew Houlihan (AUS) Husqvarna FR
13. Barry Howe (GBR) Husqvarna 450 FE
18. Cesare Zacchetti (ITA) KTM EXC 350F
22. Sheikh Mohammed Al-Thani (QAT) GasGas Rally Replica
23. Mohammed Al-Kaabi (QAT) KTM 450 Rally Replica
24. Jaco Anderson (ZAF) KTM 450 EXC
26. Mahanna Rashid Al-Naimi (QAT) Honda CRF 450 X
32. Ola Floene (NOR) KTM 450 Rally
33. Francesco Catanese (ITA) KTM 450 Rally
36. Fabrizio Machitella (ITA) KTM 450 EXC-F
37. Alberto Bertoldi (ITA) KTM 450 Rally Replica
38. Elio Aglioni (ITA) KTM 450 Rally Replica
39. Enrico Tanganelli (ITA) Husqvarna 450 Rally Replica
43. Mohammed Al-Shamsi (ARE) KTM 450 XC

FIM Bajas World Cup – standings after round 1:
1. Mohammed Al-Balooshi (ARE) 25pts
2. Martin Chalmers (AUS) 20pts
3. Alex McInnes (GBR) 16pts
4. Jonathan Finn (CAN) 13pts
5. Mishal Al-Ghuneim (SAU) 11pts
6. Abdullah Abu Aisheh (JOR) 10pts
7. Hamdan Al-Ali (ARE) 9pts
8. Brett Hunt (GBR) 8pts
9. Andrew Houlihan (AUS) 7pts
10. Sultan Al-Balooshi (ARE) 6pts, etc


Source Qatar Baja / QMMF

Qatar International Baja 2023: Qatar International Baja is a hit!

After the start of the 2023 FIM Bajas World Cup in Saudi Arabia, riders meet again this week for the Qatar International Baja, the second round of the series in Qatar being held over a route of 840km.
Fifty motorcycles and four quads are scheduled to attend administrative and technical checks at the Lusail Sports Arena, north of Doha, on Wednesday.

Mohammed Al Balooshi (KTM) was the winner of the Saudi Baja-Hail and arrives in Qatar at the head of the FIM Bajas World Cup standings with 25 points. He will, therefore, have to defend his position against Martin Chalmers (Beta), who is second in the standings, and the third-placed Junior rider Alex McInnes (Husqvarna).

We must also watch out for the Duust rider, Konrad Dabrowski (KTM), who is the defending champion and has recovered from an appendicitis operation. This deprived the Pole of a start at the Dakar Rally but then he retired from the recent Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge in Abu Dhabi with back pain. Konrad is recovered and fully intends to get his revenge.
And then there is the rising rider of the Rally Raid, Paolo Lucci (KTM) who will also be at the start!
Competition in the motorcycles will be fierce between the 50 participants, who include four Juniors, 14 veterans and four women; namely Mirjam Pol (KTM) - the title holder, Joanna Modrzewska (KTM), Sarah Khuraibet (Husqvarna) and Vanessa Ruck (Honda).

In the quad category, Haitham Al-Tuwayjri (Yamaha) came first in the quads at the first Baja in Ha’il and faces competition from Abdulaziz Ahli (Yamaha), Hani Al-Noumesi (Yamaha) and Arnoud Dom (Suzuki).

The Qatar International Baja begins on Wednesday, March 15th with administrative and technical checks followed on Thursday, March 16th by a 10km Prologue.
On Friday, SS2 will run for 248km and Saturday’s SS3 will be 239km. That makes a total of 844km, consisting 498.37km of selective sections and 346.21km of Liaisons.

The race will take place on various types of desert terrain and riders will need to stay extremely focused to avoid the pitfalls but, above all, not to miss any waypoints or get lost because the navigation has the reputation of being very difficult on this event!

For official results and information, download the SPORTITY app: Code - FIMQIB23

Race Tags: #FIM #FIMCrossCountryRallies #saudibaja

Source FIM
Photo Rally-Zone

Qatar International Baja 2023: Record quality entry received for Qatar International Baja

  • FIA World Cup leaders Al-Attiyah, Yacopini and Holowczyc lead cars
  • Al-Balooshi, Chalmers and McInnes top bumper motorcycle field
  • QMMF Team to run seven T3 Can-Am Mavericks for local drivers

The Qatar Motor and Motorcycle Federation (QMMF) has received a record number of entries and strength in depth across all the various categories for the three-day Qatar International Baja, which takes place on March 16th-18th.
Competitors from a staggering 31 nations is further broken down into 47 cars in the FIA category and 51 motorcycles and four quads, which will compete in the second round of the FIM Bajas World Cup.
Seven T1+ and three T1 cars, three in the T2 section for series production cross-country machines, 21 in the lightweight prototype T3 category and 13 T4 vehicles will tackle the Baja, which counts as the second round of both the FIA World and Middle East Cups for Cross-Country Bajas.
Qatar’s Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah, Toyota Hilux team-mate Juan Cruz Yacopini and Polish driver Krzysztof Holowczyc (Mini JCW Rally Plus) closed out the podium on the opening round of the FIA World Cup in Saudi Arabia last month and they head the car field.
Saleh Al-Saif tops a formidable T3 entry and will be hoping to build upon his Saudi win. Defending FIA champion Fernando Alvarez and last year’s series runner-up Dania Akeel are the Saudi’s closest challengers after round one in their South Racing Can-Ams, although all T3 points scorers from round one are present in Saudi Arabia and include Kees Koolen, Santiago Navarro and Otavio Sousa.
The QMMF has also entered a seven-strong team of SRT-prepared Can-Am Maverick X3s for local drivers Adel Abdullah, Abdulaziz Al-Kuwari, Nasser Al-Kuwari, Rashid Al-Mohannadi, Ahmed Al-Mohannadi, Mohammed Al-Meer and Nouef Hassan Al-Suwaidi.
Young Spaniard Pau Navarro triumphed in T4 in Saudi Arabia and he tops a T4 entry that features Jeremie Warnia, Pietro Cinotto, Cristiano Batista and the local quartet of Ahmed Al-Kuwari, Khalid Al-Mohanandi, Abdullah Al-Khelaifi and Mohammed Al-Attiyah.
In the absence of FIA Middle East Cup leader Yasir Seaidan, fellow Saudi drivers, Hamad Al-Harbi and Abdullah and Ahmed Al-Shegawi and Kuwait’s Salem Al-Dhafeeri have the opportunity to snatch the series lead before the spring and summer break.
Emirati Mohammed Al-Balooshi, Qatar-based Australian Martin Chalmers and Briton Alex McInnes finished first, second and third at the Saudi Baja and lead a stunning motorcycle field, where they will face competition from top riders from Poland, Canada, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Australia, Kuwait, Italy, Lebanon, South Africa and Slovenia.

al balooshi 15 3 w

The State of Qatar will be represented by Sheikh Mohammed Al-Thani, Yaghoob Azadi, Mohammed Al-Kaabi, Abdulrahman Al-Sheeb and Rashid Al-Naimi.
The Duust Diverse Racing Team has entered four bikes for last year’s Qatar Baja-winning Pole Konrad Dabrowski, the leading female duo of Poland’s Joanna Modrzewska and Kuwait’s Sarah Khuraibet and Norway’s Ola Floene, the latter better known as an international co-driver with the likes of Andreas Mikkelsen in the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) and Sheikh Khalid Al-Qassimi in the FIA World Rally-Raid Championship (W2RC).
Haitham Al-Tuwaijri topped the quad standings at the Saudi Baja on his Yamaha Raptor 700 and lines-up against fellow Saudi Hani Al-Noumesi, the UAE’s category-leading Abdulaziz Al-Ahli and Belgian rider Arnoud Dom.

“We have been delighted with the response to this year’s Qatar International Baja,” said Amro Al-Hamad, Executive Director of the QMMF. “Cross-country rallying is the fastest growing of all the sports under the FIA umbrella and it is great to see so many international entrants joining a very strong line-up of motorcycles competing in the FIM Bajas World Cup.
“Our event has a reputation for being a major challenge for all levels of ability. Not only does our event offer varied desert terrain but we also devise a route with tricky navigation that offers a great challenge to our competitors.”

Timed action gets underway with a Prologue stage on Thursday, March 16th from 15.00hrs.

2023 Qatar International Baja – leading entries:
FIA – T1+ and T1
200. Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah (QAT)/Mathieu Baumel (AND) Toyota GR DKR Hilux*
201. Juan Cruz Yacopini (ARG)/Daniel Oliveras (ESP) Toyota Hilux Overdrive*
202. Krzysztof Holowczyc (POL)/Lukasz Kurzeja (POL)Mini JCW Rally Plus*
203. Denis Krotov (KGZ)/Konstantin Zhiltsov (ISR) Toyota Hilux Overdrive*
204. Guoyu Zhang (CHN)/Oriol Mena (ESP) Baic ORC BJ40*
205. Yunliang Zi (CHN)/He Sha (CHN) Baic ORC BJ40*
206. Ronan Chabot (FRA)/Gilles Pillot (FRA) Toyota Hilux Overdrive*
207. Khalid Al-Feraihi (SAU)/Sébastien Delaunay (FRA Nissan Pick-Up+
208. Stefano Moro (ITA)/Francesco Proietti (ITA) Mitsubishi Pajero DID*
209. Abdullah Al-Rabban (QAT)/Tamer Al-Hijazeen (QAT) Chevrolet+

FIA – T2
210. Ibrahim Al-Muhanna (SAU)/Osama Al-Sanad (SAU) Nissan Patrol+
211. Ahmed Al-Shegawi (SAU)/Omar Al-Lahim (SAU) Nissan Patrol+
213. Majed Al-Thuayyan (SAU)/Fahad Al-Sufyani (SAU) Nissan Patrol*

FIA – T3
300. Saleh Al-Saif (SAU)/TBA Can-Am Maverick X3*
301. Fernando Alvarez (ESP)/Xavier Panseri (FRA) Can-Am Maverick X3*
302. Dania Akeel (SAU)/Laurent Lichtleuchter (FRA) Can-Am Maverick X3*
303. Kees Koolen (NLD)/Wouter Rosegaar (NLD) G Rally Team OT3*
304. Santiago Navarro (ESP)/Themistocles Lopez Duro (ESP) Can-Am Maverick X3*

FIA – T4
400. Pau Navarro (ESP)/Michael Metge (FRA) Can-Am Maverick XRS Turbo*
401. Jeremie Warnia (FRA)/Loic Minaudier (FRA) Polaris RZR 1000 R*
402. Cristiano de Sousa Batista (BRA)/Fausto Mota (PRT) Can-Am Maverick XRS Turbo*
403. Luis Henderson (URY)/Bruno Jacomy (ARG) Polaris RZR 1000 R*
404. Pietro Cinotto (ITA)/Maurizio Dominella (ITA) Polaris RZR 1000 R*
*denotes registered for FIA World Cup
+ denotes registered for FIA Middle East Cup

FIM – Bikes
1. Mohammed Al-Balooshi (ARE) KTM 450 Rally Replica
2. Martin Chalmers (AUS) Beta 430 RR
3. Alex McInnes (GBR) Husqvarna FE450
4. Konrad Dabrowski (POL) KTM 450 Rally
5. Jonathan Finn (CAN) Honda CRF 450 RL
6. Mishal Al-Ghuneim (SAU)KTM 450 Rally
7. Hamdan Al-Ali (ARE) KTM 450
8. Brett Hunt (GBR) Husqvarna FE450
9. Andrew Houlihan (AUS) Husqvarna FR
10. Sultan Al-Balooshi (ARE) TBA

FIM – Quads
101. Abdulaziz Al-Ahli (ARE) Yamaha Raptor 700
111. Haitham Al-Tuwaijri (SAU) Yamaha Raptor 700
102. Hani Al-Noumesi (SAU) Yamaha Raptor 700
103. Arnoud Dom (BEL) Suzuki LT-R 450


Source Qatar International Baja / QMMF

Rally Jameel 2023 - Stage 4 (Final)

Rally Jameel, Saudi Arabia’s first all-female off-road navigation rally concludes in Al Qassim - the land of dates. After a 500km route, with 120km of special stage all 82 participants from both international and local teams crossed the finish line on the fourth day of the rally.

The women started in Hail and drove across the ancient volcanic fields of Harrat Hutaymah before crossing Darb Zubaydah - the famous pilgrimage route built by Queen Zubaydah some 1000 years ago. They then continued down the desert plains of Al Qassim province before passing date plantations back to headquarters.

The fourth stage ended with Sandstorm Express claiming back the top position, driver Ewelina Chlebowska of Poland and Hanna Riehle of Germany navigating in a Toyota FJ Cruiser. Second place went to IndiGals team with driver Sheena Sabharwal and co-pilot Trupti Gupta in a Toyota Fortuna. Third place was held by Camelia Liparoti of Italy and Rosa Romero of Spain of CAT Racing in a Toyota Fortuner.

The winner of the AW4 category was received by the Saudi Arabian team Makkiyoon, with driver Mona Hariri and Mai Alshememri in a Toyota RAV4. The winner in the PR category was awarded to the team Samara with driver Samara Alghamdi and Sara Garcia in a Toyota Prado. The winner in the category of PT4 went to team Cat Racing with driver Camelia Liparoti and Rosa Romero, also the overall third place winners. The winner of the PT6 category was claimed by Ewelina Chlebowska and Hanna Riehle of team Sandstorm Express. The winner of the PT8 category was team Fahdah with driver Mashael Alhowaish and Margot Lllobera.

The Rally Jameel 2023 champions were crowned in an open-air ceremony attended by the Prince of Hail, sponsors and guests in the centre of Buraydah. After four stages crossing the Saudi Arabian areas of AlUla, Hail and Al Qassim the participants witnessed the beautiful varied landscaped of the Kingdom and visited UNESCO World Heritage Sites.



Source Rally Jameel / Icarus Sports


Rally Jameel 2023 - Stage 3

The third stage of Saudi Arabia’s first all-female, off-road navigation rally, Rally Jameel commenced in one of the world’s largest open-air museums - Jubbah, Hail. It holds one of the kingdom’s UNESCO World Heritage sites due to the vast amount of rock carvings from three different eras etched in the mountainous rocks that surround the oasis city.

The 84 participants drove a total of 267km with the special stage a length of 113km. The women drove through mostly desert terrain surrounded by ancient rocks that jut out of the golden sands.

The day ended with Camelia Liparoti of Italy and Rosa Romero of Spain topping the results in a Toyota Fortuna. Second place is Sandstorn Express, driver Ewelina Chlebowska from Poland and co-driver Hanna Riehle from Germany in a Toyota FJ Cruiser. Third place is Saudi’s own Maha Alhamali with her co-driver Perry Taye navigating in a Toyota Land Cruiser.

Tomorrow, the last stage of the second edition of Rally Jameel, will start in Hail and end in Al Qassim - the land of dates.



Source Rally Jameel / Icarus Sports