HA’IL INTERNATIONAL CROSS-COUNTRY RALLY – 19/22 March
It will be 10 years this year since the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia stepped out of the motor sport wilderness and ran the Ha’il International Rally for the first time as a small club event in 2006 and then as a larger national rally in 2007.
In that time, the Saudi Arabian Motor Federation (SAMF) has seen the event grow into a top class international cross-country rally. The Ha’il-based event was a candidate round for the FIA International Cross-Country Cup for Bajas in 2007 and took its place as a round of the prestigious FIA series in 2008 and 2010.
The 10th Ha’il International Cross-Country Rally will take place across the north-central region of the Kingdom on March 19-22 this year.
The FIA-sanctioned 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.
“We are delighted to be hosting the rally in Ha’il on its 10th anniversary,” said Nayef Al-Hejelan, the general secretary of the SAMF. “The Ha’il Rally has been the flagship off-road rally in the Saudi Arabian motor sporting calendar since car sports were given the go-ahead in the Kingdom. The 10th Ha’il International Rally will be a four-day event, with a super special stage and three demanding selective sections in the desert.”
Officials at the SAMF have now finalised the Ha’il route and confirmed that the opening super special stage will be held after the ceremonial start in Ha’il on Thursday, March 19th before three desert stages take place on March 20, 21 and 22. The rally offices and media centre will be located at the Maghwat Conference Centre on the outskirts of Ha’il.
One stage will be similar to the one that was used across the An Nafud desert in 2014, a second has around 85% of new tracks and the third is completely new. Race officials are planning around 1,200km of competition over a wide variety of terrain, including gravel trails, sand dunes, wadis, areas of tricky navigation and the passing of small oasis farms.
After the success of the small national event in 2006, the Ha’il Rally gained international status in 2007 and was won by the local driver Rajeh Al-Shammeri in a Toyota Land Cruiser. It’s popularity grew quickly as motor sport blossomed in the Kingdom and the recent Dakar Rally winners, Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah and Matthieu Baumel, won the Ha’il event in a BMW X3 CC in 2008. Qatari Al-Attiyah teamed up with Timo Gottschalk to claim a second win three years later with a Volkswagen Race Touareg.
Yazeed Al-Rajhi also has a successful record on the Ha’il Rally. The Saudi claimed victory with Baumel in 2009 with a Nissan Navara and in 2010 with a Mitsubishi Racing Lancer. He snatched a third title in 2012 with Filipe Palmeiro at the wheel of a Mini All4 Racing. A crash and a back injury sidelined the Saudi in 2013 and Czech driver Miroslav Zapletal claimed the laurels in a Hummer.
Al-Rajhi also retired last year with mechanical problems and this paved the way for Ibrahim Al-Muhanna and Ali Obaid to claim an unlikely triumph in their Nissan Patrol. Motorcycles and quads have been permitted to take part since 2013.
Further information is available from the Saudi Arabian Motor Federation, PO Box 87881, Riyadh 11652, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Tel: + 9661 288 5855, Fax: + 9661 288 3882, E-mail: email@example.com. Visit the websites:
http://www.samf.gov.sa and http://www.hailrally.com.sa/ar/