– Mohammed Al-Balooshi and Riyadh Al-Oraifan win bike and quad categories
Saudi driver Saleh Alabdelali and Norwegian navigator Ole Floene clinched victory in the 15th Ha’il Nissan Rally with the second quickest time on the fourth 181km selective section of the event through the An Nafud desert on Saturday
The Hummer driver began the stage near Gazala with an overall lead of 12min 52sec and was able to stay clear of trouble to earn the biggest result of his career in his Yazeed Racing Team car.
Pre-race favourite Yazeed Al-Rajhi and Ulster co-driver Michael Orr suffered a major setback with a component failure on day two, but the Riyadh driver hit back strongly to claim another fastest time on the last stage with a time of 1hr 29min 47sec at the finish, near Shatieb.
Czech driver Miroslav Zapletal and his Slovakian navigator Marek Sykora guided their Ford F-150 Evo to the runner-up spot, 12min 57sec behind the winning Hummer, to collect a valuable haul of points at the start of the 2020 Saudi Desert Championship.
Rally winner Saleh Alabdelali said: « Today’s stage was very fast, very rough and there were a lot of stones. Like the previous stages, it needed a lot of navigational skills. After 40km, I had a puncture and lost a couple of minutes.
« Then I pushed to regain the minutes that I had lost. I was sure that (Miroslav) Zapletal was going to push and try his best to win the stage today. Any small problem would have cost me the rally. At the end, Zapletal was not able to gain any advantage, so I am extremely happy to have won the rally. I am happy for Yazeed Racing. This can won the rally before with Yazeed. »
Al-Mushanna and Mazen Al-Shammeri displaced Mutair and Hani Al-Shammeri in the battle of the Nissans for third place. Saleh Al-Saif and Yasser Al-Shammeri held on to fifth to confirm victory in the T3 category.
Muneef Al-Salmani confirmed sixth overall in his Nissan, Abdullah Al-Shegawi finished in seventh and Sami Al-Shammeri was eighth.
Khaled Al-Hamazani pipped Salman Al-Shammeri to victory in the T2 category for series production cross-country vehicles and Khalil Al-Tuwaijri topped the T4 standings from Fahad Al-Naim.
Ibrahim Al-Muhanna and his faithful crew of Osama Al-Sanad and Raed Abo Theeb were the sole entrants in the T5 truck section in their Mercedes.
Mohammed Al-Balooshi took a 3min 06sec lead over his brother Sultan into the last stage and the Emirati KTM duo held on second a one-two finish for the Al-Balooshi family, Mohammed winning the rally by 6min 05sec. Saudi Arabia’s Ahmed Al-Nasser finished a distant third.
Sulfyan Al-Omar began the final stage with a 13-second lead over Riyadh Al-Oraifan in the quad section but Al-Oraifan won the stage to clinch victory by the margin of 6min 47sec. Sultan Al-Masoud, Abdulaziz Al-Shayban and Ahmed Al-Harbi rounded off the top five.
The rally was 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 the Ha’il Regional Development Authority in co-operation with the General Authority for Tourism and National Heritage and the General Authority for Sport.
H.R.H. Prince Khalid bin Sultan Al-Abdullah Al-Faisal said: « The achievement of organising the Ha’il International Rally as a candidate for next year’s FIA World Cup fpr Cross-Country Rallies will add more responsibilities on us to develop the event and preserve the reputation of this rally. This rally has become a platform for Saudis to participate in international events within the 2030 Vision.
« We are hopeful that we will be up to these responsibilities. Thanks to the efforts made by all respected authorities in Ha’il for the success of this sporting event, which has become an annual gathering for desert rallying enthusiasts. »
The event ran under the patronage of His Royal Highness Prince Abdul Aziz Bin Saud Al-Saud, Governor of Ha’il, and His Royal Highness Faisal Bin Fahed Bin Moqren Al-Saud.
Ha’il Nissan Rally – positions after SS4 (cars):
1. Saleh Alabdelali (SAU)/Ole Floene (NOR) Hummer, 11hr 50min 03sec
2. Miroslav Zapletal (CZE)/Marek Sykora (SVK) Ford F-150 Evo, 12hr 03min 00sec
3. Al-Mushanna Al-Shammeri (SAU)/Mazen Al-Shammeri (SAU) Nissan, 12hr 24min 53sec
4. Mutair Al-Shammeri (SAU)/Hani Al-Shammeri (SAU) Nissan, 12hr 28min 46sec
5. Saleh Al-Said (SAU)/Yasser Al-Shammeri (SAU) Can-Am (T3), 12hr 31min 53sec
6. Muneef Al-Salmani (SAU) Abdulsalem Al-Nammash (SAU) Nissan, 12hr 35min 07sec
7. Abdullah Al-Shegawi (SAU)/Waleed Al-Shegawi (SAU) Nissan, 12hr 56min 49sec
8. Sami Al-Shammeri (SAU)/Abdullah Al-Shammeri (SAU) Nissa, 13hr 00min 42sec
9. Khaled Al-Feraihi (SAU)/Sebastien Delaunay (FRA) Nissan, 13hr 05min 11sec
10. Khalil Al-Tuwaijri (SAU)/Waleed Al-Tuwaijri (SAU) Can-Am (T4), 13hr 06min 14sec…
Ha’il Nissan Rally – positions after SS4 (bikes – unofficial):
1. Mohammed Al-Balooshi (UAE) KTM, 13hr 00min 36sec
2. Sultan Al-Balooshi (UAE) KTM, 13hr 06min 41sec
3. Ahmed Al-Nasser (SAU) KTM, 13hr 48min 53sec
4. Fawaz Al-Toaimi (SAU) Yamaha, 15hr 13min 42sec…
Ha’il Nissan Rally – positions after SS4 (quads – unofficial):
1. Riyadh Al-Oraifan (SAU) Yamaha, 13hr 13min 54sec
2. Sufyan Al-Omar (SAU) Yamaha, 13hr 20min 41sec
3. Sultan Al-Masoud (SAU) Yamaha, 14hr 32min 58sec
4. Abdulaziz Al-Shayban (SAU) Yamaha, 14hr 33min 54sec
5. Ahmed Al-Harbi (SAU) Yamaha, 14hr 51min 42sec
6. Abdulaziz Al-Faihan (SAU) Yamah, 15hr 04min 28sec…