RECORD QUALITY ENTRY FOR 2023 QATAR INTERNATIONAL BAJA
- FIA World Cup leaders Al-Attiyah, Yacopini and Holowczyc lead cars
- Al-Balooshi, Chalmers and McInnes top bumper motorcycle field
- QMMF Team to run seven T3 Can-Am Mavericks for local drivers
LUSAIL (Qatar): The Qatar Motor and Motorcycle Federation (QMMF) has received a record number of entries and strength in depth across all the various categories for the three-day Qatar International Baja, which takes place on March 16th-18th.
Competitors from a staggering 31 nations is further broken down into 47 cars in the FIA category and 51 motorcycles and four quads, which will compete in the second round of the FIM Bajas World Cup.
Seven T1+ and three T1 cars, three in the T2 section for series production cross-country machines, 21 in the lightweight prototype T3 category and 13 T4 vehicles will tackle the Baja, which counts as the second round of both the FIA World and Middle East Cups for Cross-Country Bajas.
Qatar’s Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah, Toyota Hilux team-mate Juan Cruz Yacopini and Polish driver Krzysztof Holowczyc (Mini JCW Rally Plus) closed out the podium on the opening round of the FIA World Cup in Saudi Arabia last month and they head the car field.
Saleh Al-Saif tops a formidable T3 entry and will be hoping to build upon his Saudi win. Defending FIA champion Fernando Alvarez and last year’s series runner-up Dania Akeel are the Saudi’s closest challengers after round one in their South Racing Can-Ams, although all T3 points scorers from round one are present in Saudi Arabia and include Kees Koolen, Santiago Navarro and Otavio Sousa.
The QMMF has also entered a seven-strong team of SRT-prepared Can-Am Maverick X3s for local drivers Adel Abdullah, Abdulaziz Al-Kuwari, Nasser Al-Kuwari, Rashid Al-Mohannadi, Ahmed Al-Mohannadi, Mohammed Al-Meer and Nouef Hassan Al-Suwaidi.
Young Spaniard Pau Navarro triumphed in T4 in Saudi Arabia and he tops a T4 entry that features Jeremie Warnia, Pietro Cinotto, Cristiano Batista and the local quartet of Ahmed Al-Kuwari, Khalid Al-Mohanandi, Abdullah Al-Khelaifi and Mohammed Al-Attiyah.
In the absence of FIA Middle East Cup leader Yasir Seaidan, fellow Saudi drivers, Hamad Al-Harbi and Abdullah and Ahmed Al-Shegawi and Kuwait’s Salem Al-Dhafeeri have the opportunity to snatch the series lead before the spring and summer break.
Emirati Mohammed Al-Balooshi, Qatar-based Australian Martin Chalmers and Briton Alex McInnes finished first, second and third at the Saudi Baja and lead a stunning motorcycle field, where they will face competition from top riders from Poland, Canada, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Australia, Kuwait, Italy, Lebanon, South Africa and Slovenia.
The State of Qatar will be represented by Sheikh Mohammed Al-Thani, Yaghoob Azadi, Mohammed Al-Kaabi, Abdulrahman Al-Sheeb and Rashid Al-Naimi.
The Duust Diverse Racing Team has entered four bikes for last year’s Qatar Baja-winning Pole Konrad Dabrowski, the leading female duo of Poland’s Joanna Modrzewska and Kuwait’s Sarah Khuraibet and Norway’s Ola Floene, the latter better known as an international co-driver with the likes of Andreas Mikkelsen in the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) and Sheikh Khalid Al-Qassimi in the FIA World Rally-Raid Championship (W2RC).
Haitham Al-Tuwaijri topped the quad standings at the Saudi Baja on his Yamaha Raptor 700 and lines-up against fellow Saudi Hani Al-Noumesi, the UAE’s category-leading Abdulaziz Al-Ahli and Belgian rider Arnoud Dom.
“We have been delighted with the response to this year’s Qatar International Baja,” said Amro Al-Hamad, Executive Director of the QMMF. “Cross-country rallying is the fastest growing of all the sports under the FIA umbrella and it is great to see so many international entrants joining a very strong line-up of motorcycles competing in the FIM Bajas World Cup.
“Our event has a reputation for being a major challenge for all levels of ability. Not only does our event offer varied desert terrain but we also devise a route with tricky navigation that offers a great challenge to our competitors.”
Timed action gets underway with a Prologue stage on Thursday, March 16th from 15.00hrs.
2023 Qatar International Baja – leading entries:
FIA – T1+ and T1
- Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah (QAT)/Mathieu Baumel (AND) Toyota GR DKR Hilux*
- Juan Cruz Yacopini (ARG)/Daniel Oliveras (ESP) Toyota Hilux Overdrive*
- Krzysztof Holowczyc (POL)/Lukasz Kurzeja (POL) Mini JCW Rally Plus*
- Denis Krotov (KGZ)/Konstantin Zhiltsov (ISR) Toyota Hilux Overdrive*
- Guoyu Zhang (CHN)/Oriol Mena (ESP) Baic ORC BJ40*
- Yunliang Zi (CHN)/He Sha (CHN) Baic ORC BJ40*
- Ronan Chabot (FRA)/Gilles Pillot (FRA) Toyota Hilux Overdrive*
- Khalid Al-Feraihi (SAU)/Sébastien Delaunay (FRA) Nissan Pick-Up+
- Stefano Moro (ITA)/Francesco Proietti (ITA) Mitsubishi Pajero DID*
- Abdullah Al-Rabban (QAT)/Tamer Al-Hijazeen (QAT) Chevrolet+
FIA – T2
- Ibrahim Al-Muhanna (SAU)/Osama Al-Sanad (SAU) Nissan Patrol+
- Ahmed Al-Shegawi (SAU)/Omar Al-Lahim (SAU) Nissan Patrol+
- Majed Al-Thuayyan (SAU)/Fahad Al-Sufyani (SAU) Nissan Patrol*
FIA – T3
- Saleh Al-Saif (SAU)/TBA Can-Am Maverick X3*
- Fernando Alvarez (ESP)/Xavier Panseri (FRA) Can-Am Maverick X3*
- Dania Akeel (SAU)/Laurent Lichtleuchter (FRA) Can-Am Maverick X3*
- Kees Koolen (NLD)/Wouter Rosegaar (NLD) G Rally Team OT3*
- Santiago Navarro (ESP)/Themistocles Lopez Duro (ESP) Can-Am Maverick X3*
FIA – T4
- Pau Navarro (ESP)/Michael Metge (FRA) Can-Am Maverick XRS Turbo*
- Jeremie Warnia (FRA)/Loic Minaudier (FRA) Polaris RZR 1000 R*
- Cristiano de Sousa Batista (BRA)/Fausto Mota (PRT) Can-Am Maverick XRS Turbo*
- Luis Henderson (URY)/Bruno Jacomy (ARG) Polaris RZR 1000 R*
- Pietro Cinotto (ITA)/Maurizio Dominella (ITA) Polaris RZR 1000 R*
*denotes registered for FIA World Cup
+ denotes registered for FIA Middle East Cup
FIM – Bikes
- Mohammed Al-Balooshi (ARE) KTM 450 Rally Replica
- Martin Chalmers (AUS) Beta 430 RR
- Alex McInnes (GBR) Husqvarna FE450
- Konrad Dabrowski (POL) KTM 450 Rally
- Jonathan Finn (CAN) Honda CRF 450 RL
- Mishal Al-Ghuneim (SAU) KTM 450 Rally
- Hamdan Al-Ali (ARE) KTM 450
- Brett Hunt (GBR) Husqvarna FE450
- Andrew Houlihan (AUS) Husqvarna FR
- Sultan Al-Balooshi (ARE) TBA
FIM – Quads
- Abdulaziz Al-Ahli (ARE) Yamaha Raptor 700
- Haitham Al-Tuwaijri (SAU) Yamaha Raptor 700
- Hani Al-Noumesi (SAU) Yamaha Raptor 700
- Arnoud Dom (BEL) Suzuki LT-R 450