– 76 competitors from eight nations set for two-day rallying challenge
The third Rally Jeddah gets underway with a ceremonial start and timed super special stage on Thursday evening.
The official candidate event for the 2017 Gulf Challenge has attracted a quality international field of a provisional 38 starters in the car category, with 76 competitors entered from Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Qatar, Russia, Germany, Jordan, Kuwait and France in the FIA T1, T2 and T3 categories.
Saudi Arabian driver Yazeed Al-Rajhi is the top seed with his German navigator Timo Gottschalk and is the favourite to claim a hat trick of victories on his home event.
Sponsored by Mohamed Yousef Naghi Motors (MYN Motors) Land Rover – and other companies, such as the MBC Group, Al-Arabia, Al-Madina and Total Oils, Rally Jeddah is being organised by the Jeddah Government and Abdullah S. Bakhashab Establishment under the supervision of the Saudi Arabian Motor Federation (SAMF) and the patronage of H.R.H. Prince Mishaal Bin Majid Bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud, Governor of Jeddah and head of Rally Jeddah’s higher organising committee.
Saudi Arabian drivers, including Ibrahim Al-Muhanna, Ahmed Al-Gashami, Motab Saud Al-Shammeri and Salman Al-Shammeri, dominate the entry list in a variety of four-wheel drive vehicles, although there is strong GCC competition on this occasion.
This comes from the likes of the Qatari trio of Adel Hussein Abdulla, the 1993 MERC champion Sheikh Hamed Bin Eid Al-Thani and Mohammed Nasser Al-Meer and the Abu Dhabi-based Lebanese driver Emil Khneisser. Al-Thani will be partnered by the Jordanian navigator Firas Al-Wa for the first time.
Kuwait is represented by the two-car team of Salem and Fares and Meshari and Mubarak Al-Thafiri, in addition to Nawaf Al-Onazi, who co-drives for the Saudi driver Mothna Al-Shammeri.
The contest for supremacy in the T2 category for Series Production Cross-Country Vehicles should be fascinating. Last year’s winner, Monif Al-Salmani, faces fierce competition from the likes of Khneisser, the experienced Ahmed Al-Sabban, Ahmed Al-Malki, Mohammed Al-Saeri, Rajeh Farhan Al-Shammeri, Ahmed Al-Shegawi and Fahad Al-Abdullatef.
The UAE’s talented Atif Al-Zarouni faces a challenge from Qatar’s Khaled Al-Mohanadi in the T3 category. Meanwhile, the Emirati trio of Arif Yousef Mohammed, Nooh Buhumaid and Ali Hassan will navigate for Saudi drivers Ahmed Al-Shegawi and Ahmed Al-Sabban and Qatar’s Al-Meer, respectively.
On behalf of everyone connected with the event, I extend a warm welcome to all our international competitors and our local drivers and look forward to a challenging and exciting two days, said Abdullah Bakhashab of the organising committee.
I also extend my thanks to our main sponsor MYN Motors Land Rover for their continued support and to everyone else who has made it possible to grow this event each year and put us on the brink of joining the new Gulf Challenge in 2017.
After a ceremonial start on North Abhur from 19.30hrs on Thursday evening, the competitive action starts with a timed super special stage of around three kilometres from 20.00hrs.