Rally: Emirati crew of Al Jafla and Malik grab lead after day one Ha’il Rally
Tuesday, March 25th, 2014- HA’IL (Saudi Arabia): The UAE crew of Khalid Al-Jafla and Ahmad Malik stormed through the field to take an unofficial outright lead in the FIA-sanctioned Ha’il International Rally, Saudi Arabia’s premier off-road motor sport event, after the third leg and the second desert selective section across the An Nafud desert on Tuesday.
Jafla was in impressive form on the day’s stage with his Chevrolet Buggy and won the special after starting from fifth overall and seventh position on the road this morning, despite losing time near the stage finish.
Former winner Rajeh Al-Shammeri began the day 25th on the road and in 29th overall after massive time penalties, but he battled through the field to record the second quickest time. Several of the top runners hit problems during the stage.
Tuesday’s third leg and second desert selective section started at Jubbah and finished at Kna’ for the cars and at Al Muhaffar for the bikes and quads. The cars ran for 192.68km of competition and the bikes and quads tackled a competitive section of 105.05km.
Unofficial overall leader Mutair Al-Shammeri was handed a 1hr 52min time penalty at the overnight halt and this pushed the Saudi down to 15th in the overall rankings and handed the lead to Farhan Al-Shammeri. The original leader had placed his Toyota on a trailer after the special stage and reached Ha’il without actually driving the road section!
Farhan Al-Shammeri duly arrived at the start of Tuesday’s stage with an 8min 39sec advantage over Khaled Al-Shammeri, with Motad Saud retaining third and Ridha Lafi moving up to fourth place. Thirty-one of the original 36-car entry started the day’s action, but Mufadi Al-Shammeri stopped at the stage start and Ahmed Al-Qashimi suffered technical issues shortly afterwards.
Fifth-placed Khalid Al-Jafla was the fastest of the leading group at PC1, but newly instated leader Farhan Al-Shammeri had already dropped 18 minutes and lost his advantage to Khalid Al-Shammeri.
Mutair Al-Shammeri was still permitted to run first on the road and he began to drop time as the pack chased him down, but Al-Jafla was driving superbly in the Buggy and the Emirati reached PC2 well clear of the chasing group. Ali Al-Kitbi and Ahmed Al-Shuhail were running in a virtual second and third through the stage after starting further down the field. Saleh El-Hout, former winner Rajeh Al-Shammeri and Saleh Al-Abdulali were also pushing hard at the rear of the car entry.
Al-Jafla lost time near the end of the special and arrived at the finish with Mutair Al-Shammeri, but he still climbed up the leader board. Khaled Al-Shammeri also finished well ahead of the chasing pack but there was no position for the Saudi at PC4 and he had the risk of time penalties to follow. Many of the front-runners struggled through the closing kilometres and Ridha Lafi was the fourth driver to cross the finish line.
Sultan Al-Masood was handed the overall motorcycle/quad lead at the Maghwat conference centre on Monday evening after Ahmed Al-Nasser incurred a fistful of time penalties and the Saudi headed into Tuesday’s stage with a 28-second lead over Meshal Al-Khaledi once tracking and route vagaries had been taken into account.
But the Saudi stopped shortly after the start and Meshal Al-Khaledi and Abdul Majeed Khulaifi hit the front, with Al-Khaledi well clear at PC2, despite all the riders taking on extra water because of the heat. At PC2, Al-Khaledi had a 16min 33sec advantage over Khulaifi, with Ahmed Al-Nasser in third. This had given Al-Khaledi the virtual overall lead.
This year’s event is being organised by the Saudi Arabian Motor Federation (SAMF) and is being staged under the patronage of His Royal Highness Prince Saud Bin Abdul Mohsen Bin Abdul Aziz, Governor of Ha’il, President of the Supreme Commission for Ha’il Development and the Head of the Supreme Commission of the Ha’il Rally.
The SAMF runs under the chairmanship of His Royal Highness Prince Sultan Bin Bandar Al-Faisal and the event is being organised in conjunction with the High Authority for the Development of Ha’il.
Tomorrow (Wednesday), cars will tackle another demanding selective section of 256.55km through the An Nafud desert in a day’s route of 485.41km. The bikes and quads tackle a selective section of 104.5km in a longer route of 455.82km around Al Aim.
The event finishes at the Maghwat Conference Centre on Thursday afternoon after 856.7km of competition in a total route of 1,685.83km
Positions after leg 2 – Tuesday (unofficial @ 14.50hrs):
1. Khalid Al-Jafla (ARE)/Ahmed Malik (ARE) Chevrolet Buggy 7hr 40min 02sec
2. Ridha Lafi (SAU)/Nawaf Onizan (SAU) Toyota 8hr 13min 11sec
3. Ahmed Al-Shuhail (SAU)/Abdulaziz Ashfour (SAU) Nissan 8hr 20min 13sec
4. Salman Al-Shammeri (SAU)/Rasheed Al-Tiwyawi (SAU) Toyota 8hr 35min 02sec
5. Abdel Al-Ghamdi (SAU)/Mohammed Al-Ghamdi (SAU) Nissan 8hr 48min 23sec
6. Ibrahim Muhanna (SAU)/Ali Obaid (UAE) Nissan 8hr 50min 21sec
7. Niaf Al-Otaibi (SAU)/Fahad Al-Sfiani (SAU) Nissan 8hr 51min 51sec
8. Farhan Al-Shammeri (SAU)/Tariq Al-Shammeri (SAU) Toyota 8hr 53min 54sec
9. Ali Al-Kitbi (ARE)/Rashid Al-Shamsi (ARE) Nissan Patrol 8hr 53min 56sec
10. Motab Saud (SAU)/Issa Masoud (SAU) Toyota 8hr 57min 45sec
Khaled Al-Shammeri (SAU)/Farhan Al-Shammeri (SAU) Toyota 7hr 41min 51sec+
+not classified at PC4
*results provisional at time of going to press and exclude additional time penalties that may be added later by race officials