– Forty-two cars, 25 motorcycles and six quads on entry lists for Ha’il season opener
The Saudi Automobile and Motorcycle Federation (SAMF) has announced a quality international entry of 42 cars, 25 motorcycles and six quads for the opening round of the 2024 FIA World and Middle East Cups, the FIM Bajas World Cup and the first event in the Saudi Toyota Rally Championship.
The Hail Toyota International Rally 2024 (Saudi Baja) is running under the chairmanship of H.R.H. Prince Khalid bin Sultan Al-Abdullah Al-Faisal, the President of the SAMF, on February 8th-10th.
Twelve cars will compete in the new Ultimate group (formerly T1 and T1P), with 12 in Challenger, three in Stock and 15 in SSV.
Defending Saudi Toyota Rally Champion Yazeed Al-Rajhi and his German co-driver Timo Gottschalk finished as runners-up in both last year’s FIA World Rally-Raid Championship and the FIA World Baja Cup and they top the Ultimate group entry in a Toyota Hilux.
Further Toyotas have been entered for Argentina’s Juan Cruz Yacopini, Lithuania’s Rokas Baciuška and Saudi female driver Dania Akeel, the latter two making their first appearances in the Toyota.
Portugal’s João Ferreira returns to the X-Raid team to crew the solitary Mini John Cooper Works Rally Plus and local driver Mohammed Al-Tuwaijri is also registered for the FIA World Baja Cup.
Dubai’s Aliyyah Koloc faces competition from Qatar’s Abdulla Al-Rabban, the Kuwaiti duo of Salem Al-Dhafeeri and Nasser Al-Ajmi and the Saudi duo of Motab Saud Al-Qnon and Abdulaziz Al-Yaeesh for FIA Middle East Cup honours.
The South Racing Can-Am Team’s Diego Martinez and João Dias are chasing World Baja Cup honours alongside the X-Raid Yamaha duo of Germany’s Annett Quandt and Hungary’s Pal Lonyai. Spaniard Edouardo Pons, Emirati Khalid Al-Jafla, Ecuador’s Bradley Salazar and Brazilian Gunter Hinkelmann complete the line-up.
Hamad Al-Harbi is the defending FIA Middle East Cup T3 champion and he returns to try and retain his title. Competition comes from Saleh Al-Saif, Maha Al-Hameli and Abdullah Al-Haydan.
Quaddy Racing has entered three Yamaha YXZ 1000Rs in the SSV category for Amerigo Ventura, Ahmed Al-Kuwari and Abdullah Al-Khelaifi. Kuwaiti Meshari Al-Thefiri drops down from the Challenger category, while the South Racing Can-Am Team has entered a Maverick for Fernando Alvarez.
Luis Henderson, Alexander Boquoi, Ibrahim Al-Muhanna, Bader Al-Barrak and Tullio Versace are also entered alongside the Saudi Arabian trio of Abdullah Al-Shegawi, Saeed Al-Mouri and Moaaz Hariri, Emirati Atif Al-Zarouni and French girl Mathilda Lauwens.
Ahmed Al-Shegawi, Ibrahim Bensahman and Majed Al-Thunayyan will fight for honours in the Stock (formerly T2) category.
MX Ride Dubai’s Mohammed Al-Balooshi won the motorcycle category in 2020, 2022 and 2023 and the KTM rider tops the 25-strong field on two wheels. He faces international competition from the likes of Pedro Bianchi Prata, Andrew Houlihan and Barry Howe.
The list also includes entries from Saudi riders Abdulhalim Al-Mogheera, Bader Al-Hamdan and Ahmed Al-Jaber, in addition to Al-Balooshi’s brother Sultan, Kuwait’s Abdullah Al-Shatti and Jordan’s Abdullah Abu Aisheh.
Two-time winner Haitham Al-Tuwaijri heads the six-strong quad field alongside fellow Saudi riders Hani Al-Noumesi, Abdulaziz Al-Atawi, Abdulrahman Abdullatif, Abdulaziz Al-Shammeri and Abdulaziz Al-Shayban.