Jeddah Rally Toyota to decide winning drivers and riders in Saudi Toyota Rally Championship

This weekend’s Jeddah Rally Toyota 2023 will decide the outcome of several categories in the hotly-contested 2023 Saudi Toyota Rally Championship.

After a pre-event press conference at 11.00hrs tomorrow (Thursday) morning, the ceremonial start will take place at the King Abdullah Economic City (KAEC) from 14.00hrs before competitors tackle a nearby two-kilometre Prologue stage, starting at 14.55hrs (first bike).

The event is being organised by the Saudi Automobile and Motorcycle Federation (SAMF), in conjunction with the Ministry of Sport, official partner Abdul Latif Jameel (ALJ) Motors and strategic partner Saudi Investment Bank (SAIB). It is running under the supervision of SAMF President H.R.H. Prince Khalid bin Sultan Al-Abdullah Al-Faisal.

Following victories in the Tabuk-NEOM Rally and Rally Qassim Toyota earlier this season, Yazeed Al-Rajhi has hit the front of the Saudi Toyota Rally Championship drivers’ standings at the perfect time. The Overdrive Racing Toyota Hilux driver starts his final event before the Dakar Rally with a seven-point cushion over Saleh Al-Saif. Merely staying ahead of his rival will be sufficient to retain the national championship. He has already secured the T1P class title in his Toyota Hilux.

Abdulaziz Al-Yaeesh led the series earlier in the season and is now in third place – 11 points behind Al-Rajhi – and still confident that he can challenge for podium honours with Dania Akeel down in fourth, but 18 points behind the Nissan driver. Good results on the final round could also lift Yasir Seaidan, Khaled Al-Feraihi, Al-Mashna Al-Ramali and Saleh Al-Abdalali up the rankings: the Saudi quartet are currently fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth in the points’ table.

Al-Yaeesh is a clear favourite to prevail in the T1 category, The Nissan driver leads Al-Feraihi by 20 points with Al-Ramali in third.

Al-Yaeesh’s team-mate Omar Al-Lahim has an unassailable lead of 43 points in the Co-drivers’ Championship. There are still plenty of points at stake, however, for the likes of Fahad Al-Omar, Hussam Al-Zahrani and Waleed Al-Shegawi to move up the points’ table in the absence of several co-drivers currently above them in the rankings.

The battle for supremacy in the T2 section for series production cross-country vehicles could go down to the final kilometre. Khaled Al-Hamzani and Jafar Al-Qahtani are separated by just 13 points in their Nissans. Haylan Al-Subaie holds third in the title race but his absence from the final entry list of the year has opened the door for Abdullah Al-Sanad to press on for the final place on the T2 podium.

Saleh Al-Saif is aiming to earn points on two fronts this weekend. Not only is he hoping to upset the form book and snatch the overall title from Al-Rajhi, but a strong finish would also give the OT3 driver the T3 title for lightweight prototype cars. He heads to the start at King Abdullah Economic City with a 25-point cushion over Dania Akeel.

She has teamed up with the Dutch car preparation company Wevers Sport to race a Taurus T3 in a two-car team alongside Argentina’s Nicolas Cavigliasso. Akeel will use the same car at the Dakar Rally next month but her short-term priority is to try and win, or at least finish second, in the T3 Championship. Her closest rival Yasir Seaidan has switched to the T4 category on this occasion but Hamad Al-Harbi trails Akeel by 23 points heading into the final weekend of the season.

Maha Al-Hameli won the T4 section for lightweight production cross-country cars last year and has already confirmed this year’s T4 Championship. But the Saudi lines up in a Can-Am Maverick XRS Turbo RR against Orwan Ammar, Moaz Hariri and Abdullah Al-Shegawi. They are still battling for second, third and fourth places in the T4 championship. Ammar holds a one-point lead over Hariri in the battle for second place.

Ibrahim Al-Muhanna has already won the T5 truck section in his Mercedes Unimog.

Jeddah Rally Toyota 2023 will also decide the outcome of the motorcycle championship. Top seed Ehab Al-Hakeem arrives at the KAEC with a seven-point lead over Mishal Al-Ghuneim. Abdulhalim Al-Mogheera is 19 points adrift in third place and Saudi-based Philip Wilson is tied with Anass Al-Rahayani in fourth place on 25 points, with Bader Al-Hamdan only one point further behind.

The battle for supremacy in the quad category has developed into a two-horse race between the experienced FIM Bajas World Cup regulars, Haitham Al-Tuwaijri and Hani Al-Noumesi, on their Yamahas. Al-Tuwaijri starts the final round of the series with a five-point lead. Abdulaziz Al-Atawi is a distant third.

The first desert stage of 247km runs on Friday morning with the first bike due at the start in Rabigh at 08.00hrs and the first car following from 09.30hrs.

The competitive action concludes on Saturday with a second 109km stage. This starts at the historic agricultural governorate of Khulais in the Mecca Province, northeast of Jeddah. The first motorcycle is due on stage at 08.00hrs (first car – 09.30hrs).

2023 Saudi Toyota Rally Championship – positions after round 3
Drivers (overall) : 1. Yazeed Al-Rajhi (SAU), 80pts ; 2. Saleh Al-Saif (SAU), 73pts ; 3. Abdulaziz Al-Yaeesh (SAU), 69pts ; 4. Dania Akeel (SAU), 51pts ; 5. Yasir Seaidan (SAU), 46pts ; 6. Khalid Al-Feraihi (SAU), 42pts ; 7. Al-Mashna Al-Ramali (SAU), 39pts ; 8. Saleh Al-Abdalali (SAU), 32pts ; 9. Metab Al-Qnoon (SAU), 26pts ; 10. Khalid Al-Hamzani (SAU), 18pts…

Co-drivers (overall) : 1. Omar Al-Lahim (SAU), 83pts ; 2. Mohammed Al-Naim (SAU), 40pts ; 3. Radi Al-Shammeri (SAU), 32pts ; 4. Fahad Al-Omar (SAU), 29pts ; 5. Khaled Al-Bakr (SAU), 24pts ; 6. Hussam Al-Zahrani (SAU), 23pts ; 7. Waleed Al-Shegawi (SAU), 23pts ; 8. Waleed Al-Fuaim (SAU), 22pts ; 9. Abdulattif Al-Sanad (SAU), 20pts ; 10. Ayidh Al-Harbi (SAU), 13pts…

T1 : 1. Abdulaziz Al-Yaeesh (SAU), 99pts ; 2. Khalid Al-Feraihi (SAU), 79ts ; 3. Al-Mashna Al-Ramali (SAU), 69pts ; 4. Owaid Al-Ramali (SAU), 47pts ; 5. Metab Al-Qnoon (SAU), 45pts…

T2 : 1. Khalid Al-Hamzani (SAU), 89pts ; 2. Jafar Al-Qahtani (SAU), 76pts ; 3. Haylan Al-Subaie (SAU), 57pts ; 4. Abdullah Al-Sanad (SAU), 48pts ; 5. Majed Al-Thunayyan (SAU), 41pts…

T3 : 1. Saleh Al-Saif (SAU), 111pts ; 2. Dania Akeel (SAU), 86pts ; 3. Yasir Seaidan (SAU), 72pts ; 4. Hamad Al-Harbi (SAU), 63pts ; 5. Abdullah Al-Shegawi (SAU), 17pts

T4 : 1. Maha Al-Hameli (SAU), 117pts ; 2. Orjwan Ammar (SAU), 54pts ; 3. Moaaz Hariri (SAU), 53pts ; 4. Saeed Al-Mouri (SAU), 34pts ; 5. Abdullah Al-Shegawi (SAU), 34pts ; 6. Yosra Jazzar (SAU), 17pts

T5 : 1. Ibrahim Al-Muhanna (SAU), 60pts

Bikes : 1. Ehab Al-Hakeem (SAU), 52pts ; 2. Mishal Al-Ghuneim (SAU), 45pts ; 3. Abdulhalim Al-Mogheera (SAU), 33pts ; 4. Philip Wilson (SAU), 25pts ; 5. Anass Al-Rahayani (SAU), 25pts ; 6. Bader Al-Hamdan (SAU), 24pts ; 7. Abdulrahman Al-Abdullatif (SAU), 10pts

Quads : 1. Haitham Al-Tuwaijri (SAU), 70pts ; 2. Hani Al-Noumesi (SAU), 65pts ; 3. Abdulaziz Al-Atawi (SAU), 32pts ; 4. Abdulrahman Al-Abdullatif (SAU), 13pts.

Neil Perkins,