Rally Qassim Toyota gets underway on thursday afrernoon

– Al-Yaeesh and Al-Ghuneim lead Saudi car and motorcycle championships
– Rally Qassim Toyota 2023 gets underway at the National Park in Buraydah from 15.00hrs on Thursday afternoon.

The third round of the Saudi Toyota Championship is being organised by the Saudi Automobile and Motorcycle Federation (SAMF), in conjunction with the Ministry of Sport and in partnership with Abdul Latif Jameel (ALJ) Motors Toyota.

The event is being run to the highest standards by an experienced team in Buraydah that also works with the A.S.O. to ensure the success of the Dakar Rally, the world’s most famous cross-country rally. The organising committee is headed by SAMF President H.R.H. Prince Khalid bin Sultan Al-Abdullah Al-Faisal.

Among the 43 cars, 27 motorcycles and six quads that entered the three-day event are the main contenders for points in the various categories of the 2023 Saudi Toyota Championship.

Abdulaziz Al-Yaeesh currently holds a seven-point cushion over Saleh Al-Saif in the overall Drivers’ Championship, with Yazeed Al-Rajhi – the outright winner of the Tabuk-NEOM Rally – in third and Al-Mashna Al-Ramali and Dania Akeel rounding off the top five. Omar Al-Lahim heads Radi Al-Shammeri by 21 points in the Co-drivers’ Championship.

Al-Yaeesh has also guided his Nissan to the top of the T1 title standings and reaches the start of Rally Qassim Toyota 2023 with a 20-point cushion over Al-Ramali, with Metab Al-Qnoun in third and newly-crowned FIA Middle East Baja Cup winner Khalid Al-Feraihi and Owaid Al-Rameli rounding off the top five.

Khaled Al-Hamzani has built up a lead of eight points in the T2 section for series production cross-country vehicles. Jafar Al-Qahtani and Haylan Al-Subaie currently occupy the other two podium positions.

Al-Saif’s strong start to the season has seen the Dark Horse Can-Am Maverick X3 driver move into a 17-point lead over Akeel in the T3 category for lightweight prototype machines. Hamad Al-Harbi was crowned as the FIA Middle East Baja Cup’s T3 champion in Dubai recently and the Saudi holds third place in T3, with Yasir Seaidan and Abdullah Al-Shegawi rounding off the top five.

Maha Al-Hameli finished as runner-up to Salem Al-Dhafeeri in the FIA Middle East Baja Cup’s T4 section but the female driver tops the T4 standings in the Saudi Toyota Championship with 79 points. That puts her 45 clear of Saeed Al-Mouri, with Orjwan Ammar and Moaaz Hariri in third and fourth. Ibrahim Al-Muhanna is the only entrant in the T5 truck class.

Useful performances at both the Saudi Baja-Hail and the Tabuk-NEOM Rally have given Mishal Al-Ghuneim a lead of nine points over Ehab Al-Hakeem in the motorcycle category. Philip Wilson holds third and the Saudi trio of Abdulhalim Al-Mogheera, Badr Al-Hamdan and Abdulrahman Al-Abdulattif round off the top six.

Haitham Al-Tuwaijri and Hani Al-Noumesi have claimed a win apiece so far this season in the quad section on their Yamahas and are tied on 45 points, with Abdulaziz Al-Atawi a distant third heading into round three.

Competitors passed administration and scrutineering checks on Wednesday adjacent to the service park.

Thursday’s official timetable begins with the pre-event press conference at the Mövenpick Qassim, before the ceremonial start takes centre stage in the National Park from 15.00hrs.

The first entrants will then tackle the opening two-kilometre Prologue stage from 16.00hrs. This will determine the starting order for the first desert stage on Friday morning.

Neil Perkins,