Rally: Al Rajhi and Gottschalk extend lead after first desert stage of Ha’il Rally
Friday, March 20th, 2015-HA’IL (Saudi Arabia): Saudi Arabian driver Yazeed Al-Rajhi and his German navigator Timo Gottschalk continued to pull away from the rest of the field after the first of three demanding desert selective sections of the 10th Ha’il Nissan International Rally across the north-central region of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia on Friday.
Driving a powerful Hummer on the split stage, the Riyadh driver lost a chunk of time after the break between the two halves of the stage in Turba, but pushed on to reduce the damage done over the closing kilometres. He leads the event by over half an hour from unofficial second-placed driver Rajeh-Farhan Al-Shammeri (Nissan).
Muteb Saud Al-Shammeri holds an unofficial third position in another Nissan, pending any time penalties imposed by event organisers this evening.
“I wanted to drive my Hummer here to prove to everyone that the car is strong and competitive and can win major international rallies,” said Al-Rajhi.
Forty-five cars and seven motorcycles and quads set out into the first of the all-desert days, with the cars tackling one stage made up of two selective sections of 130.20km and 158.56km and the motorcycles and quads taking on a 140.15km loop around Baqa’a.
Ahmed Al-Nasser took up the running at the head of the motorcycle field and super special winner Yazeed Al-Rajhi was first out of the blocks in the car category and began to edge away from his closest challenger Yayha Al-Helai. Abdulaziz Al-Hazlol retired from the quad category shortly after the start.
Al-Rajhi continued to edge away from Al-Helai and a large gap developed between the Emirati and his fellow countryman Ali Al-Ketbi in third. Al-Nasser stormed to the stage win in the motorcycle and quad class with a time of 1hr 07min 24sec, but Abdul-Majeed Al-Khulaifi missed crucial checkpoints and lost out on second place to Abdulsalem-Rami Hamam in the unofficial standings, although the latter suffered a fuel shortage.
By the end of the first section in Turba, Al-Rajhi’s lead over Al-Helai had grown to 3min 11sec in the car section and Rajah-Farhan Al-Shammeri was a further four minutes behind, with Ahmed Al-Gashami running in a virtual fourth place.
Rakan-Yousef Al-Sallum retired his Polaris with mechanical issues and Salman-Saad Al-Shammeri, who began the day in third overall, rolled his Toyota into retirement. Saeed-Zaki Al-Mouri also suffered technical issues.
Al-Rajhi lost time shortly after the stage restarted and passed the third checkpoint some way behind new virtual stage leader Muteb-Saud Al-Qnoun and down in a virtual 25th position before clawing his way back into contention for the stage win. Al-Helai, on the other hand, was in more serious trouble and ceded his position inside the top 10 at Turba with damaged gearbox bearings.
Al-Rajhi eventually crossed the finish line in a time of 3hr 27min 44sec to set the target time and it was enough to give the Saudi a comfortable overnight lead. Mohammed Al-Senaidi’s Nissan caught fire next to a police official and was badly damaged. Al-Qnoun was delayed late on and finished the stage in an unofficial eighth position.
Tomorrow (Saturday), cars take a 99.16km liaison section to the start of a single selective section of 308.41km between Dlehan and Shot. The stage for the motorcycles and quads only runs for 125.48km.
Positions after leg 2 – Friday (unofficial @ 17.15hrs):
Cars (top six only)
1. Yazeed Al-Rajhi (SAU)/Timo Gottschalk (DEU) Hummer 3hr 31min 32sec
2. Rajah-Farhan Al-Shammeri (SAU)/Mubarak Al-Shammeri (SAU) Nissan 4hr 02min 51sec
3. Moteb Saud Al-Shammeri (SAU)/Ali Obaid (ARE) Nissan 4hr 05min 09sec
4. Ahmed Al-Gashimi (SAU) Omar Al-Lahim (SAU) Nissan 4hr 07min 01sec
5. Munif Al-Salmani (SAU)/Ali Mirza (ARE) Nissan 4hr 10min 55sec
6. Khalid Abdullah Al-Shammeri (SAU)/Radi Marwan Al-Shammeri (SAU) Toyota 4hr 13min 57sec, etc
1. Ahmed Al-Nasser (SAU) 1hr 11min 36sec
2. Hamad Al-Hdayan (SAU) Yamaha 1hr 15min 38sec
3. Abdulsalem-Rami Hamam (SAU) Yamaha 1hr 16min 22sec
4. Sultan Al-Masood (SAU) Yamaha 1hr 21min 07sec
3. Mohammed Al-Darawish (SAU) Yamaha 1hr 22min 08sec
*Abdul-Majeed Al-Khulaifi (SAU) Kawasaki 1hr 15min 23sec
*missed checkpoints on route