Yazeed Al-Rajhi on course for overall Drivers’ Championship title
The four-round Saudi Toyota Rally Championship reaches its conclusion next weekend (December 15th-17th) with the three-day Rally Jeddah, the event running for the first time since 2016.
Rally Jeddah is being organised by the Saudi Automobile and Motorcycle Federation (SAMF), in conjunction with the Ministry of Sport and in partnership with Abdul Latif Jameel (ALJ) Motors.
Twenty-nine cars, 10 motorcycles and three quads grace the provisional entry list for an event where Yazeed Al-Rajhi starts as the clear favourite to win the car event and clinch the Drivers’ Championship title. The Overdrive Racing Toyota Hilux driver heads to the start with a comfortable 32-point advantage over Czech rival Miroslav Zapletal, the same opponent he pipped to the FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Bajas Drivers’ title in Dubai at the start of this month.
Saudi Border Guard team driver Khalid Al-Feraihi and the Can-Am Maverick duo of Hamed Al-Harbi and Dania Akeel are their closest challengers and will be fighting it out for third place in the championship. Al-Feraihi arrives in the Red Sea city with a seven-point cushion over Al-Harbi and an 18-point lead over Akeel, the latter tackling her final event of the season having finished second in the FIA World Cup’s T3 Championship.
Ahmed Al-Shegawi holds a one-point lead over Mutair Al-Shammeri in the well-supported T2 Championship, which has been dominated by local drivers during the course of the previous three events in Aseer, Qassim and Hail.
Motorcycles and quads will also tackle the season finale and the favourites on two wheels include the local trio of Mishael Al-Ghuneim, Abdulhalim Al-Mogheera and Othman Al-Ghfeli.
The experienced Abdulmajeed Al-Khulaifi, Haitham Al-Tuwaijri and Hani Al-Noumesi go head-to-head on their Yamahas in the battle for quad success. Al-Khulaifi clinched the FIM Bajas World Cup Quad Championship at the recent Dubai International Baja.
Rally Jeddah ran for the first time in 2014 and was won by Al-Rajhi and French co-driver Alex Winocq in a Hummer Dbug. The Saudi repeated the feat the following season with German navigator Timo Gottschalk, before Qatar’s Adel Hussein Abdullah teamed up with Frenchman Sébastien Delaunay to win the event in a T2 car in 2016.
Al-Khulaifi is a two-time winner in the quad category, having taken the laurels in 2014 and 2015. Motorcycles and quads did not enter in 2016.
After the ceremonial start at the Jeddah Stadium from 13.30hrs on Thursday (December 15th), competitors will tackle a 10km special stage (SS1A) from 14.35hrs.
The first of two longer desert selective sections starts in Khulais and finishes in Asfan on Friday (December 16th) and runs for 197km. It is split into two sections of 109km (SS1B) and 88km (SS1C) by a neutralisation zone and refuelling point for motorcycles, quads and T3 and T4 cars.
The competitive action concludes on Saturday (December 17th) with the second 131km selective section, which starts and finishes at the historic agricultural governorate of Khulais in the Mecca Province and is made up of SS2A (109km) and SS2B (22km).