Al-Rajhi, Abu Aisheh ans Al-Tuwaijri fastest on prologue at Hail Toyota International Rally

Yazeed Al-Rajhi, Abdullah Abu Aisheh and Haitham Al-Tuwaijri set the fastest times in the car, motorcycle and quad categories on the opening 6.25km Prologue stage at the Hail Toyota International Rally 2024 (Saudi Baja) on Thursday afternoon.

Thirty-four vehicles in the FIA category, 18 motorcycles, five quads and 22 crews in the Saudi National Baja were permitted to take the start of the event being organised by the Saudi Automobile and Motorcycle Federation (SAMF).

They were flagged away from the ceremonial start at Maghwat by H.R.H. Prince Khalid bin Sultan Al-Abdullah Al-Faisal, Chairman of the Saudi Automobile and Motorcycle Federation (SAMF), H.R.H. Prince Abdulaziz bin Saad bin Abdulaziz, Governor of the Hail Region, and H.R.H. Prince Faisal bin Fahd bin Muqrin, Deputy Emir of the Hail Region.

Al-Rajhi is bidding to retain his national title and win the FIA World Bajas Cup and the Toyota Hilux driver clocked a time of 4min 28sec on the slippery opening test. That was sufficient for the Riyadh driver and his German co-driver Timo Gottschalk to beat their Overdrive Racing team-mates Rokas Baciuška and Oriol Vidal by eight seconds.

Portugal’s João Ferreira and Filipe Palmeiro came home in third place in a X-Raid Mini John Cooper Works Rally Plus. Saudi female driver Dania Akeel began cautiously on her first stage in a Toyota Hilux in the Ultimate class and was classified at the rear of the field. Dubai-based Alliyah Koloc was the quickest of the drivers registered for the FIA Middle East Baja Cup in her sixth-placed Red-lined Revo+.

The X-Raid Yamaha-supported duo of Pal Lonyai and Annett Quandt led the way in the Challenger category in their YXZ 1000R Turbos. Spaniard Eduardo Pons faced a race against time to reprepare his Taurus T3 Max after his engine failed during a shakedown and the car suffered fire damage. The engine was replaced overnight by the team’s technicians and he was able to continue in the Challenger category to hold third place on his debut in the Taurus.

Kuwait’s Meshari Al-Thefiri was the class of the SSV field in his SRT Can-Am Maverick and held fifth in the overall classification. His nearest challenger in the SSV group was local driver Abdullah Al-Shegawi (Can-Am) with Qatar’s Ahmed Al-Kuwari (Yamaha) in third.

Al-Mashna Al-Rameli topped the times in the Saudi National Baja in his Nissan Patrol. He beat Majid Al-Oraifan by seven seconds on the Prologue. Abdullah Al-Yaeesh was third.

Jordanian rider Abdullah Abu Aisheh stole a march on his rivals to win the Prologue on two wheels. The GasGas rider rode eight seconds quicker than his mentor and multiple champion Mohammed Al-Balooshi. Portugal’s Pedro Bianchi Prata came home in third and Lebanon’s Eid Rafic and local rider Anass Al-Rihayani rounded off the top five. Abu Aisheh’s lead climbed to 1min 04sec when the coefficient ruling was applied to the stage times.

Haitham Al-Tuwaijri guided his Yamaha Raptor 700 to the quickest time in the quad category. The two-time event winner clocked a time of 5min 10sec to beat Abdulaziz Al-Shayban by 21 seconds.

Tomorrow (Friday), competitors head into the An-Nafud desert for a 302km stage that starts at the village of Qina to the northwest of Hail.

Hail Toyota International Rally 2024 (Saudi Baja) – Prologue result (unofficial):
Cars (top 25 only)
1. Yazeed Al-Rajhi (SAU)/Timo Gottschalk (DEU) Toyota Hilux Overdrive, 4min 28sec*
2. Rokas Baciuška (LTU)/Oriol Vidal (ESP) Toyota Hilux Overdrive, 4min 36sec*
3. João Ferreira (PRT)/Filipe Palmeiro (PRT) Mini John Cooper Works Rally Plus, 4min 42sec*
4. Juan Cruz Yacopini (ARG)/Daniel Oliveras (ESP) Toyota Hilux Overdrive, 4min 45sec*
5. Meshari Al-Thefiri (KWT)/Michael Metge (FRA) Can-Am Maverick XRS Turbo RR, 4min 53sec+
6. Aliyyah Koloc (ARE)/Sébastien Delaunay (FRA) Red-Lined Revo+, 4min 53sec+
7. Pal Lonyai (HUN)/Dmytro Tsyro (UKR) Yamaha YXZ 1000R Turbo, 5min 07sec
8. Abdullah Al-Shegawi (SAU)/Aleksandr Alekseev (KGZ) Can-Am Maverick XRS Turbo RR, 5min 16sec+
9. Annett Quandt (DEU)/Annie Seel (SWE) Yamaha YXZ 1000R Turbo, 5min 18sec
10. Eduardo Pons (ESP)/Jaume Betriu (ESP) Taurus T3 Max, 5min 19sec*
11. Ahmed Al-Kuwari (QAT)/Manuel Lucchese (ITA) Yamaha YXZ 1000 R SS, 5min 19sec+
12. João Dias (BRA)/João Miranda (PRT) Can-Am Maverick X3, 5min 24sec*
13. Hamad Al-Harbi (SAU)/Aleksei Kuzmich (ARE) Can-Am Maverick X3, 5min 26sec+
14. Diego Martinez (ARG)/Sergio Lafuente (URY) Can-Am Maverick X3, 5min 30sec*
15. Moaaz Al-Hariri (SAU)/Tariq Al-Rammah (SAU) Can-Am Maverick XRS Turbo RR, 5min 34sec+
16. Saleh Al-Saif (SAU)/Nasser Al-Kuwari (QAT) G Rally Team OT3, 5min 38sec+
17. Khalid Al-Jafla (ARE)/Andrei Rudnitski (LTU) Can-Am Maverick X3, 5min 39sec*
18. Fernando Alvarez (ESP)/Xavier Panseri (FRA) Can-Am Maverick XRS Turbo RR, 5min 41sec*
19. Gunter Hinkelmann (BRA)/Nicolas Falloux (FRA) Taurus T3 Max, 5min 42sec
20. Bradley Salazar (ECU)/Marco Guerron Coronel (ECU) Can-Am Maverick X3, 5min 44sec*
21. Maha Al-Hamali (SAU)/Oriol Mena (ESP) Can-Am Maverick X3, 5min 45sec+
22. Ibrahim Al-Muhanna (SAU)/Faisal Al-Suwayh (SAU) Can-Am Maverick XRS Turbo RR, 5min 46sec*
23. Amerigo Ventura (ITA)/Mirko Brun (ITA) Yamaha YXZ 1000 R, 5min 50sec*
24. Abdullah Al-Haydan (SAU)/Bader Al-Ajmi (SAU) Can-Am Maverick X3, 6min 07sec+
25. Majed Al-Thunayyan (SAU)/Fahad Al-Sufyani (SAU) Nissan Patrol, 6min 09sec+
*registered for FIA World Baja Cup
+registered for FIA Middle East Baja Cup

Bikes (top 15 only)
1. Abdullah Abu Aisheh (JOR) GasGas MC, 450 5min 23sec
2. Mohammed Al-Balooshi (ARE) KTM Rally Replica, 5min 31sec
3. Pedro Bianchi Prata (PRT) Honda CRF 450RX 5min 34sec
4. Eid Rafic (LBN) Husqvarna FE450, 5min 41sec
5. Anass Al-Rihayani (SAU) KTM RX, 5min 43sec
6. Abdullah Al-Shatti (KWT) Husqvarna Rally, 5min 47sec
7. Salman Farhan (BHR) Husqvarna FE 5min 51sec
8. Abdulhalim Al-Mogheera (SAU) KTM 450 CC 5min 52sec
9. Andrew Houlihan (AUS) Husqvarna 450 FR, 5min 54sec
10. Bader Al-Hamdan (SAU) Yamaha WR450 F, 5min 54sec
11. Martin Chalmers (AUS) GasGas 450 Rally Replica, 5min 55sec
12. Philip Horlemann (DEU) Husqvarna FE501 (Open), 6min 06sec
13. Hamdan Al-Ali (ARE) Husqvarna FE450, 6min 19sec
14. Ehab Al-Hakeem (SAU) Yamaha WR450 F, 6min 39sec
15. Ahmed Al-Jaber (SAU) KTM 450 CC, 6min 55sec, etc

1. Haitham Al-Tuwaijri (SAU) Yamaha Raptor 700, 5min 10sec
2. Abdulaziz Al-Shayban (SAU) Yamaha Raptor 700, 5min 31sec
3. Abdulaziz Al-Atawi (SAU) Yamaha Raptor 700, 5min 39sec
4. Hani Al-Noumesi (SAU) Yamaha Raptor 700, 6min 07sec
5. Abdulrahman Alabdullatif (SAU) Can-Am Renegade 800, 7min 56sec