The Saudi Arabian Motor Federation (SAMF) is delighted to announce a bumper provisional entry for next week’s Ha’il International Cross-Country Rally, an FIA-sanctioned event that will run through the north-central region of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia from March 21-27.
SAMF general secretary Anwar Helmi and his team are currently putting the finishing touches to the route through the An Nafud desert in north-central Saudi Arabia. Helmi was delighted to confirm that a provisional 37 competitive teams from Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Oman, UAE, Germany, Great Britain, Czech Republic and Poland will take part in the car category in the ninth event of its kind to be staged in the Kingdom. The event is again based at the Maghwat Conference Centre in Ha’il.
“This year our route is different to the previous few times,” said Helmi. “The super special stage is totally new and will run for three kilometres. The others will have different finishing points for the cars and bikes. Bikes will tackle a stage of 106km on the second day and the Jubbah stage will be 193km for the cars.
“The third Al-Aim special will be the reverse of the first desert stage and the cars will run a longer special of 256km. All the competitors will tackle 146km on the fourth Dlehan stage.” Helmi confirmed that cars will run for a competitive distance of 751km in a total route of 1,200km.
Mamoun Shalabi, the Jordanian official who was responsible for the 2008 WRC event in Jordan, has been appointed as Rally Director by the SAMF and is working with new Clerk of the Course, Khalid Zakaria – the former FIA Middle East co-drivers’ champion who worked in a senior capacity at the 2010 WRC in Jordan.
Last year’s Ha’il winner Miroslav Zapletal of the Czech Republic returns to defend his crown at the wheel of a Hummer H3, partnered by the experienced Pole Rafal Marton. The former Baja GB winner fronts a three-car team from the Czech Republic, which also includes Tomas Ourednicek and Zdenek Poizek in two more Hummers.
Riyadh-based Yazeed Al-Rajhi has won the Ha’il event on three occasions in three different cars and the Saudi is in a rich vein of form at the moment. He leads the 2014 FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Rallies after winning the Baja Russia Northern Forest ’14 in an Overdrive Toyota Hilux and teams up with his experienced German co-driver Timo Gottschalk for the first time in Saudi Arabia.
A record 13 motorcycle and quads appear on the provisional entry list. All the competitors hail from Saudi Arabia and are led by Sultan Al-Masood and Abdul Majid Khulaifi.
This year’s event 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.