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

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

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  • 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

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