Toyota’s Yazeed Al-Rajhi cruises to comfortable win at Rally Aseer

Toyota Hilux driver Yazeed Al-Rajhi and his German co-driver Dirk von Zitzewitz stayed clear of trouble to clinch an emphatic victory at the Abha-based Rally Aseer, round one of the 2022 Saudi Toyota Rally Championship.

The Saudi was fastest on both selective sections on Friday and Saturday and a time of 1hr 36min 54.6sec for the longer of the two stages earned the Toyota man a winning margin of 26min 01.5sec.

Al-Rajhi said: « This was a challenging rally, not easy, but the car was perfect and Dirk did a great job with the navigation. It’s great to get back to winning ways and to make such a good start to the Saudi Toyota Championship. »

Event Stewards awarded Miroslav Zapletal and his Slovakian co-driver Marek Sykora a 12-minute penalty for a timing infringement on Friday afternoon and the Czech was pushed down from second to sixth place before the final 186.73km selective section got underway. The Ford F-150 driver’s misfortune promoted Al-Saif into second place and the Can-Am driver started the day 14min 44sec behind Al-Rajhi.

The final day’s action was split into two sections and passed between Tareeb and Al-Qa’ah. Al-Saif and his Spanish co-driver Oriol Vidal were unable to hold on to their position and set the fourth quickest time in the Black Horse Can-Am Maverick X3. The Saudi duly finished fourth overall, sealing victory in the T3 category in the process.

Zapletal was second on the day and managed to overhaul four crews, including Al-Saif and third-placed Mohammed Al-Tuwaijri and his Peruvian co-driver Hector Garcia, to regain second position in the overall standings. Khalid Al-Feraihi and French navigator Sébastien Delaunay finished fifth.

Hamad Al-Harbi and Russian co-driver Alexey Kuzmich managed to fend off a late challenge from Dania Akeel and her Uruguayan navigator Sergio Lafuente to confirm sixth overall and second in T3 in their Al-Shegawi Racing Can-Am. Akeel was seventh, despite finishing the stage with a cracked windscreen after an impact with a tree branch.

Saudi Border Guard (SBG) team driver Jafar Al-Qahtani secured eighth and outright success in the T2 section for series-production cross-country vehicles. SBG team-mate Haylan Al-Subaie and Ahmed Al-Shegawi were second and third in the showroom section.

Both Saeed Al-Mouri and Maha Al-Hamali failed to finish the opening stage and the duel for the T4 category win was fought out over the final morning with both drivers carrying massive time penalties from the previous day. Al-Mouri and his Jordanian co-driver Ata Al-Hmoud pipped Al-Hamali and her Spanish co-driver María de Los Angeles to the day’s stage win and snatched T4 success, courtesy of having less time penalties for missing waypoints.

Mubarak Al-Zubaidi and Abdullah Al-Sanad joined Muneef Al-Salmani on the list of retirements, as 17 crews tackled the final stage. Ibrahim Bin Sahnan and Fahad Al-Maioweed withdrew during the morning.

The event was organised by the Saudi Automobile and Motorcycle Federation (SAMF) in conjunction with the Ministry of Sport, the Saudi Motorsport Marshals Club and the Saudi Motorsport Company, in partnership with Abdul Latif Jameel (ALJ) Motors Toyota.

Rund two of the Saudi Toyota Rally Championship will be Rally Qassim on October 12-14.

Aseer Rally 2022 – positions after leg 2 (186.73km)
1. Yazeed Al-Rajhi (SAU)/Dirk von Zitzewitz (DEU) Toyota Hilux, 3hr 19min 58.7sec
2. Miroslav Zapletal (CZE)/Marek Sykora (SVK) Ford F-150 Evo, 3hr 46min 00.2sec
3. Mohammed Al-Tuwaijri (SAU)/Hector Garcia (PER) Nissan, 3hr 49min 42.4sec
4. Saleh Al-Saif (SAU)/Oriol Vidal (ESP) Can-Am Maverick X3 (T3), 3hr 50min 06.4sec
5. Khalid Al-Feraihi (SAU)/Sébastien Delaunay (FRA) Nissan, 3hr 55min 21.7sec
6. Hamad Al-Harbi (SAU)/Alexei Kuzmich (RUS) Can-Am Maverick X3 (T3), 4hr 07min 45.0sec
7. Dania Akeel (SAU)/Sergio Lafuente (URY) Can-Am Maverick X3 (T3), 4hr 16min 48.2sec
8. Jafar Al-Qahtani (SAU)/Ali Al-Yami (SAU) Nissan (T2), 4hr 51min 57.4sec
9. Haylan Al-Subaie (SAU)/Hussam Al-Zahrani (SAU) Nissan (T2), 4hr 55min 50.3sec
10. Ahmed Al-Shegawi (SAU)/Waleed Al-Shegawi (SAU) Nissan (T2), 5hr 00min 10.9sec
11. Abdulaziz Al-Yaeesh (SAU)/Omar Al-Lahim (SAU) Nissan, 5hr 05min 23.6sec
12. Ahmed Al-Gashami (SAU)/Nawaf Al-Enezi (KWT) Nissan, 5hr 26min 18.3sec
13. Majed Al-Thunayyan (SAU)/Fahad Al-Sufinay (SAU) Nissan, 6hr 34min 47.7sec
14. Saeed Al-Mouri (SAU)/Ata Al-Hmoud (JOR) Can-Am Maverick X3 (T4), 22hr 47min 18.0sec
15. Maha Al-Hamali (SAU)/María de Los Angeles (ESP) Can-Am Maverick X3 (T4), 24hr 11min 56.9sec
T1 unless stated

Neil Perkins,