SAMF makes final preparations for second round of Saudi Toyota Rally Championship

The Saudi Automobile and Motorcycle Federation (SAMF), in conjunction with the Ministry of Sport and in partnership with Abdul Latif Jameel (ALJ) Motors Toyota, is putting the finishing touches to Rally Qassim 2022, this weekend’s second round of the Saudi Toyota Rally Championship.

Series leader Yazeed Al-Rajhi and German co-driver Dirk von Zitzewitz top an impressive entry of 45 cars, 23 motorcycles and five quads for the three-day event.

Rally Qassim 2022 is based out of the city of Buraydah, gets underway with a ceremonial start (14.00hrs) and power stage (15.00hrs) on Wednesday (October 12) and continues with two desert selective sections of 185km and 123km on Thursday and Friday, respectively.

Al-Rajhi claimed a comfortable victory at the opening round of the series – the Aseer Rally that was based in Abha last month – and the Toyota Hilux driver arrives back in his native Saudi Arabia fresh from finishing fourth overall at last week’s FIA Rally of Morocco. Yazeed secured victory over the UAE’s Sheikh Khalid Al-Qassimi by a narrow 10-second margin when Rally Qassim ran for the first and only time in 2019.

Al-Rajhi’s closest rival is again likely to be the Czech driver Miroslav Zapletal, who shadowed the Riyadh driver to the finish in Abha in his self-built Ford F-150 Evo. Mohammed Al-Tuwaijri rounded off the podium places last month and is seeded at three with Peruvian co-driver Hector Garcia.

Other potential front-runners in the T1 category include the Saudi drivers, Khalid Al-Feraihi, Abdulaziz Al-Yaeesh, Muneef Al-Salmani and Abdullah Al-Haydan.

Saleh Al-Saif and Spanish co-driver Oriol Vidal finished fourth overall in Abha and won the T3 section in their Can-Am Maverick. Al-Saif faces three Saudi rivals this weekend – the talented female driver Dania Akeel, Hamad Al-Harbi and Shaker Al-Tuwaijri. Al-Harbi and Akeel finished sixth and seventh overall on the opening round and second and third in T3.

Fourteen Saudi drivers line up in the T2 section for series-production cross-country vehicles. Saudi Border Guard team driver Jafar Al-Qahtani finished a superb eighth overall and won the section on round one, where Haylan Al-Subaie and Ahmed Al-Shegawi were his closest challengers.

Saeed Al-Mouri got the better of Maha Al-Hamali in T4 at round one and both Saudis return to action in their Can-Ams. They face additional competition from Mishal Al-Shammeri.

Ibrahim Al-Muhanna wheels out his customary Mercedes truck as the sole entrant in T5, alongside crew members Osama Al-Sanad and Raed Abu Theeb. The trio won their class on the event in 2019.

Twenty-three motorcycles and five quads also grace the entry list. The KTM duo of Mishal Al-Ghuneim and Abdulhalim Al-Mogheera head the two-wheel contingent, which also includes entries from Kuwait’s Sarah Khuraibet, the UAE’s Othman Al-Ghefeli and Qatari riders, Mohammed Al-Kaabi, Martin Chalmers and Gerard Lubbinge.

Haitham Al-Tuwaijri faces Abdulmajeed Al-Khulaifi, Hani Al-Noumesi, Abdulaziz Al-Atawi and Abdulaziz Al-Shammeri in an experienced line-up of five Yamaha riders in the quad category. Al-Khulaifi topped the quad standings at the first ever Rally Qassim, when it ran out of its base in Buraydah three years ago.

After administration and scrutineering checks tomorrow (Tuesday), the event gets underway with the ceremonial start at Dates City in the centre of Buraydah, the capital of the Al-Qassim region, from 14.00hrs on Wednesday.

Rally Qassim 2022 is being run under the chairmanship of H.R.H. Prince Khalid bin Sultan Al-Abdullah Al-Faisal and supervision of former FIA Middle East rally champion Abdullah Bakhashab.

This year’s Saudi Toyota Rally Championship consists of four rounds. The Ha’il Baja (November 10-12) and Jeddah Rally (December 15-17) will bring the series to a conclusion.

Rally Qassim 2022 – leading entries:
200. Yazeed Al-Rajhi (SAU)/Dirk von Zitzewitz (DEU) – Toyota Hilux
201. Miroslav Zapletal (CZE)/Marek Sykora (SVK) – Ford F-150 Evo
202. Mohammed Al-Tuwaijri (SAU)/Hector Garcia (PER) – Nissan
203. Khalid Al-Feraihi (SAU)/Sébastien Delaunay (FRA) – Nissan
204. Jafar Al-Qahtani (SAU)/Ali Al-Yami (SAU) – Nissan
205. Haylan Al-Subaie (SAU)/Hussam Al-Zahrani (SAU) – Nissan
206. Ahmed Al-Shegawi (SAU)/Waleed Al-Shegawi (SAU) – Nissan
207. Abdulaziz Al-Yaeesh (SAU)/Omar Al-Lahim (SAU) – Nissan
208. Ahmed Al-Qashami (SAU)/Nawaf Al-Enezi (KWT) – Nissan
209. Majed Al-Thunayyan (SAU)/Fahad Al-Sufiany (SAU) – Nissan

1. Mishal Al-Ghuneim (SAU), KTM
2. Abdulhalim Al-Mogheera (SAU) – KTM
3. Fawaz Al-Toami (SAU) – Yamaha
4. Bader Abalkhail (SAU) – Yamaha
5. Anass Al-Reheyani (SAU) – KTM

30. Haitham Al-Tuwaijri (SAU) – Yamaha
31. Abdulmajeed Al-Khulaifi (SAU) – Yamaha
32. Hani Al-Noumesi (SAU) – Yamaha
33. Abdulaziz Al-Atawi (SAU) – Yamaha
34. Abdulaziz Al-Shammeri (SAU) – Yamaha

Neil Perkins,