Sep 30, 2018
SAUDI ARABIA’S ESSA AL-DOSSARI HITS CRUISE CONTROL TO WIN JORDAN BAJA
AQABA (JORDAN): Saudi Arabian driver Essa Al-Dossari and Emirati navigator Ali Hassan Obaid were the class of the field at the inaugual Jordan Baja and cruised through the final day in the magnificent desert surroundings of Wadi Rum to secure victory by the margin of 46min 05sec.
The ED Racing Nissan Navara driver won every desert selective section comfortably after missing on the super special win to Saleh Al-Saif. The winning driver said: “Everything went smooth and I am really happy. I took it so easy on the last stage. I was slower than yesterday by just four minutes. The stages are nice, but very fast and you need a lot of speed here.”
Saudi rivals Fares Al-Moshana and Motab Al-Shammeri confirmed an all-Nissan and and all-Saudi podium with second and third places in their Patrols. Khalid Al-Hamzani was fourth and Ahmad Al-Malki broke the Nissan strangehold on the leading positions with fifth overall in an Isuzu D-Max.
The Deaf Rally Team Saudi Arabia’s Fahad Al-Abdallatif confirmed victory in the T2 category for finishing sixth overall. Hand signals were used by navigator Ziyad Al-Harbi to achieve an excellent result for the determined driver.
Salameh Al-Gammaz completed the route as the leading Jordanian driver in seventh overall in his Toyota Prado with navigator Yousef Juma.
Saleh Al-Saif plummeted from third to seventh on the first stage of the day, but the Can-Am driver lost out on the top seven after incurring late road penalties of 2hrs 20mins and then getting lost and breaking down on the last stage. He reached the stage finish without completing much of the defined route and massive time penalties were expected, but the T3 category win was a consolation for the Saudi.
Ata Al-Hmoud coasted to an emphatic victory in the motorcycle category. The former Jordanian rally navigator had only tackled one event on two wheels in Greece before the Jordan Baja, but he won all four of the desert stages to claim victory over Hamza Zawahreh by the margin of 3hrs 51min 51sec.
Al-Hmoud said: “It was a tough second stage. I was fighting all the way with the sand, because it was very deep in parts. It feels brilliant to have finished though. I had issues with the pressure and lost a lot of time in the first stage, but I cannot complain overall really.”
Essa Al-Dossari found that his outright lead had risen to 27min 39sec overnight after nearest rival Fares Al-Moshana was awarded a 10-minute penalty.
Penalties abounded inside the top 10 for various route violations with Saleh Al-Saif the main beneficiary from penalties imposed on Motab Al-Shammeri and Khalid Al-Hamzani. The Can-Am T3 driver was duly promoted to third place.
Raed Al-Anzi, Tawfiq Hraiz, Malek Al-Hariri (clutch issues) and Yara Shalaby started the last day with 100 hours of time penalties for failing to complete the day one route, but Saudi Arabia’s Ibrahim Al-Muhanna and Kuwait’s Salem Al-Dhafeeri were amongst the retirements.
Ata Al-Hmoud saw his motorcycle advantage rise to a massive 2hrs 21min 07sec after his penalty of 28 minutes was dwarfed by the 90 minutes handed to nearest rival Hamza Zawahreh. Saif Al-Zyoud, Khaldoon Halabi and Bader Abdel Jawad have officially retired from the event.
Action began on a 64.65km selective section that started and finished in Al-Quwayrah. Al-Hmoud led his motorcycle rival and Al-Dossari was first on the road in the cars. The Jordanian pressed home his advantage and won the stage on two wheels in a time of 1hr 25min 01sec, despite a navigational scare near the end, and extended his outright lead to a staggering 2hrs 45min 30sec. Zawahreh completed the stage with one tyre intact and one puncture on his Kawasaki.
Behind Al-Dossary, the battle for the minor places on the podium in the car category was hotting up and several Saudi drivers were jostling for position. Both Ahmed and Motab Al-Shammeri were running strongly behind the rally leader, but Palestinian driver Mahmoud Al-Maabda made a major navigational error and ceded further time to his rivals.
Al-Dossary was the first of all the competitors to cross the finish line in a time of 42min 05sec and he managed to beat Motab Al-Shammeri by 2min 02sec. He also extended his lead to 35 minutes over Al-Moshana. Saleh Al-Saif was delayed on the stage and the 30 minutes he lost pushed him down from third to seventh place.
Yara Al-Shalaby damaged her Nissan Pathfinder’s transmission in a dune earlier in the stage and was unable to continue. Malek Al-Hariri actually finished the stage in his T3 MN 1600, but retired before the last section with a broken piston ring in his engine. Mahmoud Al-Maabda completed the stage but was deemed OTL.
Al-Hariri’s co-driver Ziad Masannat said: “When we finished the stage, there had been a lot of pressure on the engine in the dunes. We reached the service park and there was a distinct noise from the engine. Even if we went to the last stage, we could not have made it.”
The longer 121.14km selective section was a repeat of Friday’s test run in reverse. It skirted close to the frontier with Saudi Arabia, south-east of Aqaba.
There were no late dramas for Al-Dossari and Al-Hmoud and they confirmed their respective wins. Ahmed Al-Shammeri lost time on the last stage with technical issues and Al-Saif clocked a fistful of time penalties.
Jordan Motorsport now faces an anxious wait before the next FIA World Council meeting to see whether it will be the latest organisation to join the calendar for the FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Rallies.
2018 Jordan Baja – positions after SS5 (unofficial @16.40hrs): Cars
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