The Saudi Automobile and Motorcycle Federation (SAMF) has issued an impressive entry list for the first Tabuk-Neom Rally, round of the 2023 Saudi Toyota Rally Championship, which takes place next weekend (May 18th-20th).
The event is running under the chairmanship of H.R.H. Prince Khalid bin Sultan Al-Abdullah Al-Faisal, the President of the SAMF, and has attracted 35 cars, 20 motorcycles and three quads with three of the bikes running in the over-450cc category.
There is strength in depth across the various car categories with 11 T1 crews joining the top-seeded Yazeed Al-Rajhi and Timo Gottschalk in their T1+ Toyota Hilux. In addition, the first event to be based in the city of Tabuk has attracted a dozen teams in the T2 section for series production cross-country vehicles, five crews in each of the T3 and T4 categories and one truck running in T5.
The event is being held in conjunction with the Ministry of Sport and in partnership with official sponsor Abdul Latif Jameel (ALJ) Motors and strategic sponsor Saudi Investment Bank (SAIB).
Al-Rajhi starts as the favourite to win the event against a host of rivals in a fleet of Nissan and Toyotas that include Abdulaziz Al-Yaeesh, Al-Mashna Al-Ramali, Majed Al-Shammeri, Khalid Al-Feraihi and Qatar’s Abdullah Al-Rabban.
Saudi drivers dominate the T2 category on this occasion, with Ahmed Al-Shegawi and the Saudi Border Guard Team duo of Haylan Al-Subaie and Jafar Al-Qahtani topping an entry that also features the Emirati Isuzu driver Abdullah Al-Shamsi.
Dania Akeel is a regular competitor in international FIA Bajas and the Saudi teams up with Germany’s Taye Perry in an all-female team entered in the T3 section for modified prototype cross-country machines. She faces competition from fellow Saudi Can-Am drivers Saleh Al-Saif, Hamad Al-Harbi and Moaaz Hariri and Emirati Khalid Al-Jafla.
Maha Al-Hameli leads the T4 field in her Can-Am against the Saudi trio of Abdullah Al-Shegawi, Orjwan Ammar and Mohammed Al-Muhawwis and Kuwait’s Bader Al-Ajmi. Ibrahim Al-Muhanna teams up with Osama Al-Sanad and Raed Abu Theeb in his customary T5 Mercedes truck.
Local rider Mishal Al-Ghuneim leads the two-wheel field on his Beta 430RR. He lines up against the Al-Balooshi brothers, Mohammed and Sultan, Bahrain’s Salman Farhan, Qatar’s Mohammed Al-Kaabi and Abdulrahman Al-Sheeb, Kuwait’s Sarah Khuraibet and a host of additional Saudi and Emirati riders. They include Ehab Al-Hakeem and Abdulhalim Al-Mogheera.
The experienced Saudi international quad rider Haitham Al-Tuwaijri faces fellow Yamaha Raptor rivals Abdulaziz Al-Atawi and Hani Al-Noumesi in the quad section.
The Tabuk-Neom Rally gets underway with the ceremonial start and a short Qualifying stage on Thursday afternoon.
2023 Tabuk-Neom Rally – leading entries
Cars (top 10 only)
1. Yazeed Al-Rajhi (SAU)/Timo Gottschalk (DEU) Toyota Hilux
2. Abdulaziz Al-Yaeesh (SAU)/Omar Al-Lahim (SAU) Nissan
3. Al-Mashna Al-Ramali (SAU)/Abdullah Al-Ramali (SAU) Nissan
4. Motab Al-Qnon (SAU)/Fares Al-Thefiri (KWT) Nissan
5. Oiad Al-Ramali (SAU)/Khalid Al-Ramali (SAY) Toyota
6. Mubarak Al-Zbaidy (SAU)/Hassan Ali Obaid (ARE) Toyota
7. Fares Al-Marmash (SAU)/Yazeed Al-Shammeri (SAU) Nissan
8. Majed Al-Shammeri (SAU)/ Abdulaziz Al-Rimali (SAU) Nissan
9. Ahmed Al-Qashami (SAU)/Khalid Al-Bakr (SAU) Nissan
10. Fares Al-Mashna (SAU)/ TBA Nissan
Bikes (top 10 only)
1. Mishal Al-Ghuneim (SAU) Beta 430RR
2. Mohammed Al-Balooshi (ARE) KTM 450
3. Ehab Al-Hakeem (SAU) Yamaha WR450 F
4. Anass Al-Reheyani (SAU) KTM 450
5. Abdulhalim Al-Mogheera (SAU) KTM 450
6. Salman Farhan (BAH) KTM 450
7. Bader Abalalkhali (SAU) Yamaha YZ450 R
8. Bader Al-Hamdan (SAU) Yamaha WR450 F
9. Sultan Al-Balooshi (ARE) KTM 450
10. Mohammed Al-Kaabi (QAT) KTM 450
1. Haitham Al-Tuwaijri (SAU) Yamaha Raptor 700
2. Abdulaziz Al-Atawi (SAU) Yamaha Raptor 700
3. Hani Al-Noumesi (SAU) Yamaha Raptor 700