Qatar International Baja gets underway at Al-Bayt stadium on thursday afternoon

– Competitive action begins at 15.50hrs with Semaisma special stage

The Qatar International Baja will officially get underway at the impressive new Al-Bayt stadium in Al-Khor at 15.30hrs tomorrow (Thursday) afternoon.

Rescheduled from its original April calendar slot because of the Covid-19 crisis, the Qatar Motor and Motorcycle Federation’s flagship off-road event is now the fifth counting round of the 2021 FIM Bajas World Cup.

Subject to final technical checks, thirty-five motorcycles, five quads and six SSVs will tackle one short special stage and two desert off-road sections before the event finishes back at the Al-Bayt Stadium on Saturday afternoon.

Thursday is a hectic day for everyone connected with the new Baja at the traditional Losail Sports Arena headquarters and then at the Al-Bayt Stadium.

Competing machinery will pass the mandatory scrutineering checks at Losail in the morning before competitors are permitted to carry out a reconnaissance of the opening super special stage that is scheduled from 15.50hrs on Thursday afternoon.

Select entrants will attend the pre-event press conference (15.00hrs) at the Al-Bayt Stadium shortly before the official ceremonial start takes centre stage from 15.30hrs. It is then a short drive to the start of the super special stage at Semaisma.

The top seed is MX Ride Dubai’s Mohammed Al-Balooshi, who is hoping to extend his eight-point lead in the FIM Bajas World Cup’s 450cc motorcycle category. In addition to his closest series rival, Abdullah Abuaisheh, Al-Balooshi faces competition from a number of Qatar riders, including Sheikh Mohammed Al-Thani and Mohammed Al-Kaabi.

Four Qatari drivers will be looking for outright success in the FIM’s new SSV category for lightweight all-terrain vehicles. Ahmed Al-Kuwari wheels out a Yamaha YXZ 1000R with his experienced MERC co-driver Nasser Al-Kuwari, while Khalid Al-Mohannadi teams up with professional French navigator Sebastien Delaunay in a Polaris.

Abdullah Al-Khelaifi puts his trust in a Yamaha alongside Abdulaziz Al-Jabri and Ahmad Al-Mohannadi rounds off the local strike force with Jordanian team-mate Feras Allouh in a Can-Am X3.

Qatar International Baja – leading starters (subject to technical checks)
1. Mohammed Al-Balooshi (ARE), KTM 450 RR
2. Abdullah Abuaisheh (JOR), KTM Rally
3. Abdulhalim Al-Mogheera (SAU), KTM 450
4. Paulo Oliviera (MOZ), Husqvarna CFR450 RX
41. Salman Mohamed (BHR), Husqvarna 450 FE
5. Mohammed Al-Muaikil (SAU), KTM EXC 450
30. Sarah Khuraibet (KWT), Yamaha WR450
77. Sheikh Mohammed Al-Thani (QAT), Honda CRF 450 Rally R5
6. Andrew Newland (GBR), KTM EXCF
8. Mohammed Al-Kaabi (QAT), KTM 450

101. Haitham Al-Tuwaijri (SAU), Yamaha YFZ 450R
102. Faisal Al-Suwayh (SAU), Yamaha
103. Hani Al-Noumesi (SAU), Yamaha Raptor 700
104. Sultan Al-Masoud (SAU), Yamaha Raptor
105. Abdulaziz Al-Atawi (SAU), Yamaha YFZ 450R

801. Khalid Al-Mohannadi (QAT)/Sebastien Delaunay (FRA), Polaris RZR 1000
802. Ahmed Al-Kuwari (QAT)/Nasser Al-Kuwari (QAT), Yamaha YXZ 1000 R
803. Ahmed Allouh (JOR)/Tamer Hjazin (JOR), Can-Am X3
804. Ahmad Al-Mohannadi (QAT)/Feras Allouh (JOR), Can-Am X3
806. Abdullah Al-Khelaifi (QAT)/Abdulaziz Al-Jabri (QAT), Yamaha YXZ 1000 R
807. Henry Kahy (LEB)/Musa Djiyerian (JOR), Can-Am X3

Neil Perkins,