Toyota driver Yazeed Al-Rajhi seals Saudi Toyota Rally Championship title
Yazeed Al-Rajhi, Hamdan Al-Ali and Haitham Al-Tuwaijri sealed victories in their respective car, motorcycle and quad categories after the second 131km selective section of Rally Jeddah on Saturday.
The fourth and final round of the Saudi Toyota Rally Championship was 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. The event was held under the patronage of the Governor of Jeddah, His Highness Prince Saud bin Abdullah bin Jalawi.
The final competitive section started and finished at the historic agricultural governorate of Khulais. Al-Rajhi was able to win for the third day and the Overdrive Racing Toyota Hilux Riyadh driver and co-driver Dirk von Zitzewitz sealed overall victory over Miroslav Zapletal and Marek Sykora by 27min 30sec.
A fourth straight success, after wins at the Aseer, Qassim and Saudi Baja events, was enough for Al-Rajhi to comfortably secure the Saudi Toyota Rally Championship title.
Al-Rajhi said: “Sure, we are happy. We finish the championship and everything has been good for us this year. Thanks to the organiser for putting on this great championship. It was a different route than last time and we enjoyed it a lot. Dirk and the team did a great job. We are ready now. The target will now be the Dakar. It will not be easy but we have a good car and a good team.”
The Black Horse team’s Saleh Al-Saif and co-driver Egor Okhotnikov rounded off the podium places in their Can-Am Maverick X3 and won the T3 category. Al-Saif said: “First time here in Rally Jeddah and it was a great round-up for the season. We had excellent stages though it was tough. We had a strategy that we followed so we finished the rally in third place and first in the T3 class and, subsequently, we won the T3 title in the championship.”
Saudi Border Guard team driver Khaled Al-Feraihi and French co-driver Sébastien Delaunay finished fourth overall and won the National Championship, while Dania Akeel and her Uruguayan navigator Sergio Lafuente were classified in fifth and second in T3.
Al-Feraihi said: “I won the National Rally title. Unfortunately, we will not participate in the next Dakar. We are still learning and gaining experience. It was a very difficult rally with rocky and wadi sections but we finished without major issues.”
Akeel added: “We had a great time. We had a lot of different tracks, rocks, open flats and mountains and really good practice for Dakar. I gained a lot of experience this season. I am understanding the Can-Am from South Racing more and more.”
Ahmed Al-Shegawi and Alexei Kuzmich were the first of the T2 runners home in sixth place to secure the T2 title. Maha Al-Hameli and Sweden’s Annie Seel held off the late challenge from Saeed Al-Mouri and Jordanian navigator Ata Al-Hmoud to win T4 and finish 12th overall the result enough to earn the Saudi girl the T4 title.
Al-Mouri said: “The rally was good. I was just trying to finish and not trying to push. We took one penalty (15 minutes) yesterday. Today Ata asked me to push and we passed a T3 car and followed the cars in front. We should keep this momentum for next year.”
Ibrahim Al-Muhanna teamed up with Osama Al-Sanad and Raed Abu Theeb to win the T5 truck category in their Mercedes.
Husqvarna rider Hamdan Al-Ali kept his cool over the closing kilometres to wrap up the over 450cc motorcycle class win. The Emirati finished the event 12min 52sec in front of Saudi Security Forces Team rider Anass Al-Reheyani, who won the under 450cc category.
Fellow Saudi Mishael Al-Ghuneim rounded off the podium places on his final event before tackling the Dakar in January and was second in the up to 450cc section.
Al-Ali said: “It was an excellent rally but very difficult. I am so happy to finish in the first place.”
Runner-up Al-Reheyani added: “We enjoyed the event though it was my first participation here in Jeddah. We finished the rally in second place and first in the 450cc class. It was not easy. I didn’t expect the rally to be so hard, especially the rocky sections that forced us to ride slowly.”
Haitham Al-Tuwaijri was the only quad rider to escape time penalties and the Yamaha man comfortably won the category on his Yamaha from a distant second-placed Hani Al-Noumesi and Abdulmajeed Al-Khulaifi in third.
Al-Tuwaijri said: “Excellent day today, but we had some difficult sections in yesterday’s stage, especially at the end. I won the quads title in both the championship and the rally.”
Rally Jeddah – final positions after SS2:
1. Yazeed Al-Rajhi (SAU)/Dirk von Zitzewitz (DEU) Toyota Hilux 3hr 15min 12sec
2. Miroslav Zapletal (CZE)/Marek Sykora (SVK) Ford F-150 Evo 3hr 42min 42sec
3. Saleh Al-Saif (SAU)/Egor Okhotnikov (FIA) Can-Am Maverick X3 (T3) 3hr 56min 36sec
4. Khalid Al-Feraihi (SAU)/Sébastien Delaunay (FRA) Nissan 4hr 04min 44sec
5. Dania Akeel (SAU)/Sergio Lafuente (URY) Can-Am Maverick X3 (T3) 4hr 05min 30sec
1. Hamdan Al-Ali (ARE) Husqvarna (over 450cc) 4hr 35min 22sec
2. Anass Al-Reheyani (SAU) KTM 4hr 48min 14sec
3. Mishal Al-Ghuneim (SAU) Husqvarna 4hr 50min 35sec
4. Abdulhalim Al-Mogheera (SAU) KTM 5hr 01min 53sec
5. Ehab Al-Hakeem (SAU) Yamaha 5hr 18min 20sec
1. Haitham Al-Tuwaijri (SAU) Yamaha 5hr 11min 30sec
2. Hani Al-Noumesi (SAU) Yamaha 17hr 52min 05sec
3. Abdulmajeed Al-Khulaifi (SAU) Yamaha 22hr 02min 42sec