New Sharqihay Baja to bring inaugural Saudi Toyota Desert Series to a close

– Two-time Dakar winner and former WRC star Carlos Sainz enters Saudi finale

The Saudi Automobile and Motorcycle Federation is putting the finishing touches to the Sharqiya Baja 2019, the fifth and final round of the incredibly successful inaugural Saudi Toyota Desert Rally Championship.

The new event brings the year’s off-road rallying calendar to a close on December 12th-14th in the Kingdom’s Eastern Province and is being observed as an official candidate for future inclusion in the FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Bajas.

The Sharqiya Baja will be based at the Holiday Inn on Half Moon Bay, near Khobar City, in close proximity to the Kingdom’s causeway connection to the Kingdom of neighbouring Bahrain. The same location hosted Saudi Arabia’s round of the FIA Middle East Rally Championship that graced the calendar in 2010 after running as an official candidate in 2008.

The German X-raid team has already confirmed that two-time Dakar Rally winner and former WRC star Carlos Sainz will take part in the event as a last-minute shakedown before the Kingdom hosts the Dakar Rally for the first time at the start of 2020. Sainz and fellow Spaniard Lucas Cruz will wheel out the latest MINI John Cooper Works Buggy.

Administration checks and pre-event scrutineering will take place at the Holiday Inn on Wednesday, December 11th and the morning of Thursday, December 12th. The ceremonial start and opening super special stage then take centre stage from 15.00hrs on Thursday afternoon.

The first of the longer desert selective sections is scheduled to start at 08.50hrs on Friday, December 13th and the last of the timed tests gets underway from the earlier time of 07.30hrs on Saturday, December 14th, before the ceremonial finish at 19.00hrs.

The event is being organised by the Saudi Automobile and Motorcycle Federation (SAMF), under the chairmanship of H.R.H. Prince Khalid bin Sultan Al-Abdullah Al-Faisal and the supervision of former FIA Middle East champion Abdullah Bakhashab.

Entries close on Friday (December 6th) for the new Baja running with the support of the Saudi Automobile and Motorcycle Federation, the General Sport Authority, Abdul Latif Jameel Motors (Toyota), the MBC Group, Al-Arabia outdoors and the Saudi Research and Marketing Group.

Neil Perkins,

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