RALLY JEDDAH 2016, November 17-18
JEDDAH (Saudi Arabia): Motor sport in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has a relatively short history compared with other nations in the GCC and Middle East region.
One of the first major events in the country’s rallying calendar was the inaugural Ha’il Rally in 2006, which went on to become a round of the FIA Baja Cup for a short time and is now an integral part of the regional FIA off-road calendar. The Saudi Arabia Rally also ran through the Eastern deserts on two occasions as a candidate event for the FIA Middle East Rally Championship in 2008 and as an actual round of the prestigious series in 2010.
Rally Jeddah is the third international event in the Kingdom to feature in the FIA international rallying calendar and the third running of the event on November 17-18 could well see the brainchild of Abdullah Bakhashab join four other rallies in an exciting, new 2017 Gulf Challenge.
Rally Jeddah is being organised by the Jeddah Government and Abdullah S. Bakhashab Establishment under the supervision of the Saudi Arabian Motor Federation (SAMF) and the patronage of H.R.H. Prince Mishaal Bin Majid Bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud, Governor of Jeddah and head of Rally Jeddah’s higher organising committee.
“The Jeddah Rally is one of the most important events in my schedule,” said Qatar’s Adel Hussein Abdulla, who will take part in the event alongside French navigator Sébastien Delaunay. “I took part in the previous two editions sitting next to Ahmed Al-Sabban. This is my first time in Jeddah as a driver though. It is a very interesting rally. The way we deal with this event is different because there is different terrain, sandy and rocky stages, so a lot of variety.
“Spectators are enthusiastic here. There are a lot of them and the organisation is very good. Year-after-year it is getting better. I hope to win the T2 category, especially after the good results I achieved in this year’s FIA World Cup.”
Benefitting from strong support from Mohamed Yousef Naghi Motors (MYN Motors) – Land Rover – and other top line sponsors, such as the MBC Group, Al-Arabia, Al-Madina and Total Oils, Rally Jeddah is nicely poised to benefit from massive interest in motor sport in Saudi Arabia.
The construction of impressive racing facilities at Reem and Dirab, near Riyadh, has further strengthened the popularity of both rallying, Drag and circuit racing disciplines in the Kingdom and Jeddah organisers are hoping to attract a record entry when the deadlines is reached for drivers and riders to register on Sunday (November 13).
“We have been delighted with the positive response from everyone so far and our team is looking forward to putting on a first class rally running to a slightly shorter format this time to prepare us for possible inclusion in the Gulf Challenge alongside other rallies in Oman, Dubai, Kuwait and Qatar,” said Abdullah Bakhashab.
“We have massive support from drivers coming from all across Saudi Arabia and it’s great to see competitors on the entry list from Qatar, the UAE, Lebanon, France, Russia, Germany and Kuwait.”
Abu Dhabi-based Lebanese driver Emil Khneisser is one of those international visitors taking part with Russian navigator Alexei Kuzmich.
“Rally Jeddah is one of my favourite events, where I managed some previously good results” said Khneisser. “Saudi drivers are very talented and highly competitive and the terrain and navigation are both technical. My aim is to use this opportunity to ensure my readiness to compete, not only against the cars in T2, but also those in T1.”