Qatar: Al Balooshi, Al Tuwauri and Al Kuwari seal victories in Qatar International Baja
LOSAIL (Qatar): The UAE’s Mohammed Al-Balooshi, Saudi Arabia’s Haitham Al-Tuwaijri and Qatar’s Ahmed Al-Kuwari sealed outright victories in the motorcycle, quad and SSV sections of the Qatar International Baja after the third desert selective section that was held in punishing heat on Saturday.
MX Ride Dubai’s Mohammed Al-Balooshi delivered a polished performance over the closing 249.68km selective section that started at Al-Kharsaah and included a tricky final passage through the sand dunes near the Inland Sea, south of Doha, where temperatures rose into the low forties Centigrade.
He completed the gruelling stage in just under nine minutes shy of five hours to seal a 10min 57sec victory over British youngster Robert Wallace in the motorcycle section. The latter’s consolation was sealing top spot in the FIM Juniors category.
Al-Balooshi said: “It was a very tough two stages but I am happy that we managed to bring the bike home and win this round of the FIM Bajas World Cup and extend our championship lead. I am a little bit disappointed that Abdullah Abuaisheh could not start because it is good to have your main rival competing. I thank him for letting me use his front wheel. I damaged mine.
“Now I will go to Portugal for the last round, which is double points. I started off with third in Dubai, a win in Jordan and a win here. But I have a torn ligament in my shoulder. I was nursing it home and managed to win. I probably only rode at 60 or 70%.”
The UK’s Andrew Newland rounded off the podium places and Kuwait’s Abdullah Al-Shatti overcame a fall to finish fourth. Richard Dors and Makis Rees-Stavros rode strongly on the final day to snatch fifth and sixth.
Unfortunately, x-rays confirmed Martin Chalmers’s worst fears and the Qatar-based Australian was forced to withdraw from the motorcycle event with two broken ankle bones and ligament damage. It was testament to his determination that he had completed the second stage in first position and managed to put his bike into Parc Ferme to restart, albeit with eight minutes of penalties later added to his time.
Saudi Arabia’s Haitham Al-Tuwaijri was the class of the quad field from the start and the Yamaha rider extended his lead in the FIM Bajas World Cup with an emphatic win. Hani Al-Noumesi’s mechnical issues paved the way for Sultan Al-Masoud to finish second in the category.
Ahmed and Nasser Al-Kuwari showed their talent by completely dominating the SSV category in a Yamaha YXZ 1000R. The Qatari duo were the class of the entire Baja and faster than all the motorcycles to boot. Al-Kuwari reached the finish nearly three hours ahead of nearest SSV rival Abdullah Al-Khelaifi and was a staggering 2hr 03min 24sec in front of the leading motorcycle. Khalid Al-Mohannadi brought his Polaris home in third.
“It was a nice rally and my brother Nasser and I enjoyed every moment,” said Al-Kuwari. “He did a great job with the navigation. We never got lost, just a few turns when we may have been over speeding. It was a very good job. I was concentrating on bringing the car home and getting no punctures. We had a nice rhythm. Now I have unfinished business in Dakar. Hopefully we can go there now.”
There were several strong performances in the over-450cc motorcycle section, although these riders were not able to score FIM Baja World Cup points.
Saudi Arabia’s Ahmed Al-Jaber started the final stage with a 16-second cushion over Brett Hunt but it was the British enduro rider who managed to top the class rankings by 7min 51sec after an excellent final passage through the dunes. Several riders became stuck in the sand in the heat and the recovery crews were busy during the afternoon.
Britons, Harry Michael, Hugh Mackay and Joseph Dann, all took a rest in the shade before continuing towards the stage finish.
Qatar International Baja – positions after SS3 (unofficial @ 16.50hrs):
Motorcycles – up to 450cc (FIM)
- Mohammed Al-Balooshi (ARE) KTM 450 RR 9hr 25min 12sec
Robert Wallace (GBR) KTM 450 RR 9hr 36min 09sec
Andrew Newland (GBR) KTM EXC F 10hr 00min 49sec
Abdullah Al-Shatti (KWT) KTM 450 10hr 06min 52sec
Richard Dors (GBR) KTM 450 RR 10hr 41min 19sec
Makis Rees-Stavros (GBR) KTM 450 EXC-F 11hr 03min 04sec
Gennadii Korolenko (RUS) KTM EXC 450 11hr 34min 02sec
Edward Lines (NZL) KTM 450 RFR 11hr 36min 19sec
Sheikh Mohammed Al-Thani (QAT) Honda CRF 450 Rally R5 14hr 10min 54sec
Kurt Burroughs (GBR) KTM 450 Rally 14hr 42min 37sec
- Salman Mohamed (BHR) Husqvarna 450 FE 17hr 42min 45sec
Paulo Oliviera (MOZ) Husqvarna CFR450 RX 18hr 22min 28sec
Tariq Al-Nasr (QAT) Honda CRF 450 R 18hr 26min 12sec
Abdulrahman Al-Sheeb (QAT) Beta 18hr 29min 24sec
Sarah Khuraibet (KWT) Yamaha WR450 21hr 36min 20sec
- Haitham Al-Tuwaijri (SAU) Yamaha YFZ 450R 15hr 03min 29sec
Sultan Al-Masoud (SAU) Yamaha Raptor 18hr 23min 56sec
Faisal Al-Suwayh (SAU) Yamaha 18hr 24min 04sec
Hani Al-Noumesi (SAU) Yamaha Raptor 700 18hr 41min 04sec
- Ahmed Al-Kuwari (QAT)/Nasser Al-Kuwari (QAT) Yamaha YXZ 1000 R 7hr 21min 48sec
Abdullah Al-Khelaifi (QAT)/Abdulaziz Al-Jabri (QAT) Yamaha YXZ 1000 R 10hr 18min 11sec
Khalid Al-Mohannadi (QAT)/Chris Barwick (GBR) Polaris RZR 1000 13hr 13min 19sec
Henry Kahy (LEB)/Musa Djiyerian (JOR) Can-Am X3 18hr 22min 28sec
Motorcycles – Over 450cc
- Brett Hunt (GBR) KTM Enduro R 11hr 11min 59sec
Ahmed Al-Jaber (SAU) KTM 500 EXC-F 11hr 19min 50sec
Mohammed Al-Khater (SAU) KTM EXC 500 15hr 15min 02sec
Harry Michael (GBR) Beta Racing 18hr 22min 56sec
Patsy Quick (GBR) Beta RR 18hr 25min 40sec
Hugh Mackay (GBR) KTM 500 EXC-F 18hr 37min 20sec
Joseph Dann (GBR) KTM 500 EXC-F 18hr 44min 52sec
Qatar National Baja
- Emiel Stuckens (BEL) Can-Am DS450 18hr 24min 48sec