Yasir Seaidan set the fastest time on the opening 10km Qualifying Stage of the Sharqiyah International Baja Toyota in the Half Moon Bay area of Saudi Arabia’s Eastern Province on Thursday afternoon.
Seaidan and co-driver Alexey Kuzmich posted a time of 6min 22sec for the sandy test in their Mini John Cooper Works Rally and duly edged into a lead of 26 seconds over Miroslav Zapletal at the wheel of his self-built Ford F-150.
Pre-Baja favourite Yazeed Al-Rajhi finished third overall in his Toyota Hilux and T4 category leader Saleh Al-Saif and Khalid Al-Feraihi rounded off the top five. Dutchman Erik van Loon completed the stage in sixth place in the second of the Belgian-built Toyotas.
Saudi Arabia’s Dania Akeel finished her first competitive stage with French co-driver Laurent Lichtleuchter in a time of 10min 03sec and held 11th overall.
Eleven FIA machines, 26 cars entered in the National Rally, one truck, 21 motorcycles and 10 quads were eventually permitted to take the start line of the third round of the 2021 FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Bajas and round one of the Saudi Toyota Desert Rally Championship being hosted by the Saudi Automobile and Motorcycle Federation (SAMF).
Former Hail International Rally winner Saleh Al-Abdelali was not able to start in his Hummer after it fell foul of pre-event scrutineering checks. Event Stewards deemed that certain fuel connections contravened FIA technical regulations and a start was refused on safety grounds. He duly entered the National Rally along with Saudi rival Ibrahim Ben Salman.
Al-Mashna Al-Shammeri topped the unofficial times in the National Rally before any time penalties were imposed, the Nissan Patrol driver completing the special in front of Al-Abdelali. Motab Saudi Al-Shammeri was third.
Saudi rider Abdulhalim Al-Mogheera guided his KTM EXC 450 to the fastest time in the motorcycle category, the Saudi finishing the stage half a minute ahead of Qutaibeh Al-Sharif’s more powerful KTM. Pre-event two-wheel favourite Mishaal Al-Ghuneim dropped three minutes to the stage winner and faces a fight back through the field on Friday.
Haitham Al-Tuwayjiri pipped Abdulmajeed Al-Khulaifi to the stage win in the quad category. Yamahas dominated proceedings with Al-Tuwayjiri snatching a seven-second lead. Ahmad Al-Harbi came home in third place.
The Sharqiyah International Baja Toyota is running under the supervision of H.R.H. Prince Khalid bin Sultan Al-Abdullah Al-Faisal, SAMF President and Chairman of the Organising Committee, and has attracted support from partner Abdul Latif Jameel Toyota and diamond sponsors MBC Group and Al-Arabiya outdoor advertising. Toyota is the official car for the event.
Modon, the Saudi Authority for Industrial Cities and Technology Zones, is also providing logistical support.
Competitors will tackle the first of two desert selections through the sandy deserts of the Eastern Province on Friday morning. The leading FIA cars will take the start of the 217.50km stage from 10.10hrs. There will be three passage controls on the timed section, positioned at the 30.73km, 138.50km and 172.56km points.
Sharqiyah International Baja Toyota – FIA (Qualifying Stage result):
- Yasir Seaidan (SAU)/Alexey Kuzmich (RAF) Mini John Cooper World Rally 6min 22sec
- Miroslav Zapletal (CZE)/Marek Sykora (SVK) Ford F-150 Evo 6min 48sec
- Yazeed Al-Rajhi (SAU)/Michael Orr (GBR) Toyota Hilux Overdrive 6min 53sec
- Saleh Al-Saif (SAU)/Oriol Vidal (ESP) Can-Am Maverick (T4) 7min 12sec
- Khalid Al-Feraihi (SAU)/Omar Al-Lahim (SAU) Nissan Pick-Up 7min 25sec
- Erik van Loon (NLD)/Sébastien Delaunay (FRA) Toyota Hilux Overdrive 7min 26sec
- Meshari Al-Thefiri (KWT)/Nasser Al-Kuwari (QAT) Can-Am Maverick (T4) 8min 00sec
- Thomas Bell (ARE)/Armand Monleón (ESP) Can-Am Maverick (T4) 8min 59sec
- Saeed Al-Mouri (SAU)/Sergio Lafuente (URU) Can-Am Maverick (T4) 9min 12sec
- Claude Fournier (FRA)/Szymon Gospodarczyk (POL) Can-Am Maverick (T4) 9min 15sec
- Dania Akeel (SAU)/Laurent Lichtleuchter (FRA) Can-Am Maverick (T3) 10min 03sec
Sharqiyah International Baja Toyota – National Rally (Qualifying Stage result):
- Al-Mashna Al-Shammeri (SAU)/Khalid Al-Shammeri (SAU) Nissan Patrol 6min 21sec
- Saleh Al-Abdulali (SAU)/Mohammed Al-Neim (SAU) Hummer H3 7min 10sec
- Motab Saud Al-Shammeri (SAU)/Yazeed Al-Tamimi (SAU) Nissan Patrol) 8min 09sec
- Rada Al-Shammeri (SAU)/Salamah Al-Shammeri (SAU) Nissan Patrol 8min 23sec
- Majed Al-Shammeri (SAU)/Abdulaziz Al-Rimali (SAU) Nissan Patrol 8min 30sec
- Abdullah Al-Haydan (SAU)/Fawaz Al-Masoud (SAU) Nissan Patrol 8min 36sec
- Awyed Al-Shammeri (SAU)/Motlaq Al-Shammeri (SAU) Toyota 8min 40sec, etc
Sharqiyah International Baja Toyota – Bikes (Qualifying Stage time):
- Abdulhalem Al-Mogeera (SAU) KTM EXC 450 9min 02sec
- Qutaibeh Al-Sharif (SAU) KTM EXC 500 9min 32sec
- Anass Al-Reheyani (SAU) KTM EXC 450 9min 51sec
- Othman Al-Ghfeli (SAU) Honda CRF 450 9min 52sec
- Mohammed Manzouri (AUS) KTM EXC 500 9min 55sec
- Ibrahim Al-Jaralla (SAU) Yamaha WR 450F 10min 26sec
- Mohammed Al-Kaabi (QAT) KTM EXC 450 10min 41sec, etc
Sharqiyah International Baja Toyota – Quads (Qualifying Stage time):
- Haitham Al-Tuwayjiri (SAU) Yamaha YZ 450R 8min 49sec
- Abdulmajeed Al-Khulaifi (SAU) Yamaha Raptor 700 R 8min 56sec
- Ahmed Al-Harbi (SAU) Yamaha Raptor 700 R 9min 08sec
- Riyadh Al-Shammeri (SAU) Yamaha Raptor 700 R 9min 32sec
- Sultan Al-Masoud (SAU) Yamaha Raptor 700 R 10min 11sec, etc