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Sharqiya (Saudi) Rally - 20-22 Apr 10

Posted: April 20, 2010 8:58 PM - 5389 Hits

Round 4 - 2010 FIA Middle East Rally Championship

SAUDI ARABIAS SHARQIA RALLY GETS UNDERWAY IN HALF MOON BAY ON TUESDAY AFTERNOON

Posted: April 19, 2010 2:40 PM

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia takes its place in the FIA Middle East Rally Championship for the first time tomorrow (Tuesday), when the Sharqia Rally gets underway with a ceremonial start and timed super special stage in the Al-Khobar region of the Eastern Province.

A provisional 30 crews will tackle the three-day, fourth round of the regional rally series, which has been organised by the Saudi Arabian Motor Federation (SAMF) under the patronage of HRH Prince Mohamed bin Fahd bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud, Governor of the Eastern Province and the Chairman of the Higher Committee for the Sharqia Rally.

Several leading European co-drivers, including Sheikh Khalid Al-Qassimis navigator Michael Orr (who was stranded at London Heathrow after travelling from Belfast), Nick Beech, Steve Lancaster, and numerous mechanics were unable to travel to Saudi Arabia because of the volcanic dust cloud, which has caused unprecedented disruption to air travel across Europe.

Italian co-driver Nicola Arena and Frenchman Matthieu Baumel were fortunate to travel before the airspace shutdown was enforced and Yazeed Al-Rajhis Kronos team were also able to reach Al-Khobar from Belgium.

But, on a day when the Ford factory team were forced to return to the UK via a 48-hour coach journey from the Rally of Turkey in Istanbul and WRC officials were left stranded in Turkey or seeking coach or rail transport across Europe, the Saudi event will be a crucial pointer to the direction of this years regional title.

Top seeds for the Sharqia event are Qatars Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah and his Italian co-driver Giovanni Bernacchini. The Qatari is chasing a 36th regional rally victory and will be hoping to move ahead of Misfer Al-Marri in the points standings as he reverts to a Ford Fiesta S2000 in Saudi Arabia.

Both Qatari drivers are currently tied for the lead in the Drivers Championship on 16 points apiece, although Al-Attiyah was facing a race against time to reach Al-Khobar after his own fair share of logistical issues and was very doubtful to make the start on Monday.

Al-Rajhi clinched his second MERC victory in Jordan recently to open his challenge for a maiden regional title. The Saudi would dearly like to win his home event for a second time in three seasons and drives his usual Kronos Peugeot 207 S2000. Sheikh Khalid Al-Qassimi, who will team up with the UAEs Wael Marjan as a contingency plan, and Qatars Sheikh Hamed Bin Eid Al-Thani also have 10 points apiece afterthree rounds of the eight-event series.

Ahmed Al-Sabban, Abdulhadi Al-Qahtani, Farhan Al-Ghaleb, circuit racer Saeed Al-Mouri and A. Saleh bolster the local contingent, while veteran Michel Saleh represents Lebanon.

Mufeed Mubarak, Dawood Al-Gharablly, Meshal Al-Nejadi, Abdullah Al-Hajri, Farouk Ashkanani, Meshari Al-Thafiri and Eid Faleh head the Kuwaiti challenge. Amjad Farrah lies sixth in the championship after four rounds with his Subaru Impreza and is the sole Jordanian seeded at eight. The event will also mark the first appearance of a Palestinian team in Saudi Arabia; Jaber Rami Daoud and Fares Alouh will take part in the Sharqia event in a Fiat Stilo.

Qatari drivers frequent the lower reaches of the entry list, with Khalid Al-Suwaidi seeded at six and currently lying ninth in the title race with six points. Jaber Al-Marri, Mohammed Al-Marri, Abdulaziz Al-Kuwari, Abdullah Al-Rabban and Mubarak Al-Hajri complete the Qatar line-up, which will run in the presence of QMMF president Nasser Khalifa Al-Attiyah, a special guest of the SAMFs Mishaal Al-Sudairy this week.

We welcome all our overseas participants to the Sharqia Rally and sympathise with those who were unable to reach Al-Khobar because of the travel situation in Europe, said SAMF president Mishaal Al-Sudairy. We also welcome Khaled Qadoura, the President of the Palestinian Motor Federation, as our guest and to watch a team from Palestine compete in Saudi Arabia for the first time.

Tuesdays opening super special stage gets underway at 15.24hrs (local time) and will be followed by six timed desert stages on Wednesday and a further six on Thursday.

Saudi Arabian rally teams support Sharqia Rally

Posted: April 19, 2010 2:32 PM

Three further Saudi Arabian crews will support Yazeed Al-Rajhi on the provisional entry list for this weeks Sharqia Rally, round four of the 2010 FIA Middle East Rally Championship. The event starts with a timed super special stage on Tuesday afternoon (April 22nd) in the Half Moon Bay of Al-Khobar.

Boosting the home challenge for the Kingdoms first entry into the prestigious regional rally series are Farhan Al-Ghaleb, Ahmed Al-Sabban and Abdulhadi Al-Qahtani.

Of the three, only Al-Sabban is registered for MERC points and needs a good finish on the Sharqia Rally to kick-start his championship campaign. The Saudi is the most experienced of all the local drivers taking part in the three-day gravel rally, being run under the patronage of HRH Prince Mohamed bin Fahd bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud, Governor of the Eastern Province and the Chairman of the Higher Committee for the Sharqia Rally.

He started rallying back in the early 1990s in a Group N Ford Escort RS Cosworth and has been a regular in the series for over 17 years since those forays into the sport with a Gulf Oils-backed car.

Al-Sabban and Ulster co-driver Killian Duffy experimented with a Toyota S2000 in 2008 and at the start of last year and Al-Sabban was the first driver in the region to opt for the non-Group N car route.

The Toyota set some competitive stage times, but it lacked the reliability Al-Sabban needed to make an impact on the championship and Ahmed has opted to use a Subaru Impreza in the Sharqia Rally. He will be co-driven by Amr Refai, a co-driving protg of Abdullah Bakhashabs Toyota Team Middle East programme with a trio of Toyota Rav-4s a few years ago.

While Yazeed Al-Rajhi and his French co-driver Matthieu Baumel will be hoping to win the Sharqia Rally for a second time and boost their title challenge to follow up their outright success on the candidate event in 2008 Farhan Al-Ghaleb will be hoping to reach the finish on the all-desert event, which is run by the Saudi Arabian Motor Federation (SAMF).

The Saudi has graduated from taking part in the Hail Saudi Baja to the entry list of the Kingdoms premier special stage event and teams up with Tariq Rammah in his Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution IX.

The fourth Saudi entrant on the provisional list is Abdulhadi Al-Qahtani. He will drive a Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution VIII and will be partnered by Abdulhadi Khwayter on his MERC debut.

We have seen from the popularity of the Zain Reem circuit, near Riyadh, and the burgeoning entries for the Lotus, Porsche and Saudi Radical championships that motor sport is booming in Saudi Arabia and we are delighted to see four local crews supporting the first event of its kind to form a round of the regional rally series in Saudi Arabia, enthused SAMF president Mishaal Al-Sudairy.

Saudi Arabia's Sharqia Rally will be crucial in 2010 MERC title race

Posted: April 13, 2010 2:10 PM

The 2010 FIA Middle East Rally Championship is shaping up to be one of the most exciting on record and next week’s Sharqia Rally in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia will be crucial in determining the eventual winner of the region’s eight-round rally series.

The Saudi Arabian Motor Federation (SAMF) have now finalised the route for the three-day rally in the Half Moon Bay area of Al-Khobar. The event will be based at the King Fahd sports coastal city and will run on April 20-22 under the patronage of HRH Prince Mohamed bin Fahd bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud, Governor of the Eastern Province and the Chairman of the Higher Committee for the Sharqia Rally, with full FIA World Council approval.

Qatar’s Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah is chasing a sixth regional title in seven years and heads to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia tied for the championship lead after three rounds with Qatar’s Misfer Al-Marri. Both drivers have 16 points, with Al-Attiyah taking a first in Qatar and a third in Jordan and Al-Marri taking two second places in Kuwait and Jordan with his Subaru Impreza.

Al-Attiyah tackled the recent Jordan Rally in a Skoda Fabia S2000, but appears on the Saudi entry list at the wheel of a Ford Fiesta S2000.

The form driver on the last round was home favourite Yazeed Al-Rajhi in his Kronos Peugeot 207 S2000. The Saudi failed to score a point on the first two rallies, but set some excellent stage times in Jordan earlier this month to claim his second career MERC win and 10 vital points to kick-start his 2010 title challenge.

Al-Rajhi won the Sharqia Rally when it ran for the first time as a candidate round in 2008 and has the experience and the pace to match and beat Al-Attiyah and Al-Marri over the sandy stages in Saudi’s Eastern Province.
“I need to finish and try and beat Nasser and Misfer,” admitted Al-Rajhi. “There are still five rounds to go and it is all to play for.”

Qatar’s Sheikh Hamed Bin Eid Al-Thani failed to add to the 10 points he amassed in Qatar and Kuwait, when he failed to finish in Jordan recently, but the 1993 regional champion will be aiming to bolster his points’ tally in Saudi Arabia before the MERC takes a four-month summer sabbatical before resuming in Lebanon in mid-September.

The UAE’s Sheikh Khalid Al-Qassimi won the second round of the championship in Kuwait with his Ford Fiesta S2000, but was robbed of a potential victory in Jordan recently by an alternator belt failure. That misfortune cost the Emirati driver the chance to take the outright championship lead before the Saudi Arabian round and he is the third driver to hold 10 points after three rounds.

“We have attracted many of the regional championship runners and a strong contingent from Qatar,” said SAMF president Mishaal Al-Sudairy, who has just returned from a trip to Qatar for the MotoGP race at Losail on Sunday. “We will also welcome several dignitaries during the Sharqia Rally week, including Nasser Khalifa Al-Attiyah, President of the Qatar Motor and Motorcycle Federation (QMMF).

Sharqia Rally takes shape in Saudi Arabia's Eastern Province

Posted: April 7, 2010 2:22 PM

The Sharqia Rally, round four of the FIA Middle East Rally Championship, is taking shape in Saudi Arabia’s Eastern Province and will be staged on April 20-22.

The rally is being held under the patronage of HRH Prince Mohamed bin Fahd bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud, Governor of the Eastern Province and the Chairman of the Higher Committee for the Sharqia Rally, with full FIA World Council approval.

Clerk of the course Elie Semaan has confirmed that work is being carried out on specific areas of the route through the Half Moon Bay area of Al-Khobar to prevent the sandy surfaces from cutting up when used on more than one occasion to host the three-day rally.

The Saudi Arabian Motor Federation (SAMF) will run the event to a similar format to 2008, with a timed 1.5km super special stage getting the competitive action underway on Tuesday, April 20th.

This will be followed by three desert stages, repeated twice, on Wednesday April 21st and a further three timed tests, repeated twice, on Thursday, April 22nd. All the desert stages are based upon versions of the routes and trails used during the 2008 candidate event in the Al Zabnah, Al Uqair, Qaryah, A'Dannan, Ras Qaryah and Dhallum areas of Al-Khobar.

“We had received around 20 entries before last weekend’s Jordan Rally and we expected the remainder of the regional championship contenders to finalise their entries this week,” said SAMF president Mishaal Al-Sudairy.

“Our team is working hard to get everything ready and we are all looking forward to hosting a round of the FIA Middle East Rally Championship for the first time. We have seen from the results of the first three rounds, where there have been three different winners, that this year’s championship is absolutely wide open and the Sharqia Rally will be very important to all the teams.”

Semaan confirmed that little revisions should make the event compact and concise. “The work on the stages is important and will make the surfaces in the corners more resistant to the passing of the rally cars.

“We have also introduced some chicanes into some of the faster sections, which may well have been too fast on the candidate event in 2008. There will also be remote refuelling this time around and a centralised service area near rally headquarters.”

SAMF ANNOUNCES SHARQIA RALLY IN SAUDI ARABIA’S EASTERN PROVINCE

Posted: March 21, 2010 9:09 PM

The Saudi Arabian Motor Federation (SAMF) has confirmed that the Sharqia Rally has received the full support and backing of the FIA World Council and will host the fourth round of the 2010 FIA Middle East Rally Championship on April 20-22.  

The three-day, all-desert special stage event ran as a candidate for the series in 2008 and was won by local driver Yazeed Al-Rajhi and Frenchman Matthieu Baumel. It now takes its slot in the championship calendar for the first time and officials at the SAMF are putting the finishing touches to the route and the 13 timed special stages.  

The rally is being held under the patronage of HRH Prince Mohamed bin Fahd bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud, Governor of the Eastern Province and the Chairman of the Higher Committee for the Sharqia Rally.  

“Our team is finalising all the details now, but the event will again be based in the Half Moon Bay area of Al-Khobar and we will use the King Fahd sports coastal city as the headquarters for a second time,” enthused SAMF president Mishaal Al-Sudairy.  

Clerk of the course Elie Semaan has confirmed that the competitive action will begin with a timed super special stage on Tuesday, April 20th. This will be followed by two days of competitive desert action over 12 special stages, totalling around 252km in a compact total route of approximately 450km. Stages will take place on Wednesday, April 21st and Thursday, April 22nd in the Al Zabnah, Al Uqair, Qaryah, A'Dannan, Ras Qaryah and Dhallum areas of Al-Khobar.  

“We are looking at running three special stages each day, repeated twice,” said Semaan. “They will be similar to 2008, but we have recruited a local company to compact the stage surfaces to ensure that they do not cut up or become too damaged.”  

The rally headquarters and all the special stages are easily accessible from Bahrain via the Causeway, although officials, media and competitors may also take advantage of the nearby Damman international airport.  

Competitors attending from outside Saudi Arabia will be entitled to five nights at a five-star hotel (room charges only), with the driver and co-driver sharing accommodation. Each team will also receive $1000 USD in cash assistance.

Event Website / Details

Posted: January 1, 2010 12:01 AM






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