Yazeed Al-Rajhi, Mohammed Al-Balooshi and Haitham Al-Tuwaijri confirmed impressive victories in the car, motorcycle and quad categories at Rally Qassim Toyota 2023 on Saturday.

Al-Rajhi and his German co-driver Timo Gottschalk headed into the final day of the third round of the Saudi Toyota Championship with a 2min 41sec lead over Toyota Gazoo Racing’s Lucas Moraes and Armand Monleón.

The Overdrive Racing Toyota Hilux crew ceded the stage win to their former team-mates by just four seconds but moved into contention for the local rally championship with a 2min 37sec victory. It was a third successive triumph for Al-Rajhi to follow his previous victories at Rally Qassim in 2019 and 2022. Second overall for Moraes provided the Brazilian with a perfect pre-Dakar confidence boost with his new team.

Al-Rajhi said: “Today, we take it easy because we had a good gap. It was tricky navigation and the bikes take a lot of tracks to the right and the left. It was not easy to follow the plan to take our decision. Timo did a great job and so did the team and we win the race. Now we prepare for Jeddah and then Dakar – the big one!”

Saleh Alabdulali has been away from the rallying scene for a short time but the Saudi teamed up with co-driver Mohammed Al-Naim to bring his Yazeed Racing-backed Toyota Hilux to the podium in Buraydah in third place. That gave Toyota a clean sweep of the podium places.

Race World Can-Am Maverick X3 driver Yasir Seaidan and his French co-driver Michael Metge confirmed victory in the T3 section for lightweight prototype machines with fourth overall.

Dark Horse Team Can-Am Maverick X3 driver Saleh Al-Saif incurred an overnight two-minute penalty for speeding but the Saudi was third quickest on the last stage and moved back up to fifth and second in T3.

Khalid Al-Feraihi teamed up with Sébastien Delaunay and did his championship aspirations no harm at all by bringing his Nissan home in sixth overall. Saudi Arabia’s leading female driver Dania Akeel finished seventh and third in T3 in her R-X Sport Maverick with French co-driver Stéphane Duplé.

Akeel said: “The last stage was very enjoyable. The terrain changed a lot, so we had some nice tracks and some dunes. It was very nice. It reminded me of a bit of Ha’il and some bits reminded me a little of the Empty Quarter. I enjoyed the navigation very much. We had a lot of cap changes and that was great training for Dakar stages.”

Rashid Al-Ketbi and Ali Mirza brought the second R-X Sport-run Can-Am home in eighth and fourth in T3, while Abdullah Al-Haydan and Abdulaziz Al-Yaeesh rounded off the top 10 in their Nissans.

13th-placed Abdullah Al-Sanad held off Majed Al-Thunayyan and Sufian Al-Omar to win the T2 category for series production cross-country vehicles. Overnight leader Mohammed Al-Asiri lost out on his T2 advantage when he incurred 30 minutes of time penalties on Friday evening for missing route waypoints on stage one.

Female racer Maha Al-Hameli finished nearly 10 minutes in front of Ahmed Al-Shegawi to win the T4 section in her Maverick XRS Turbo RR.

Despite a front-left puncture near the finish of stage one, Ibrahim Al-Muhanna teamed up with Faisal Al-Suwayh and Raed Abu Theeb to finish the event in the only T5 Mercedes truck in the field.

The final Al-Mithnab stage of 121km was rutted after recent heavy rains but there was firmer sand in the dunes as a result and the leading motorcycle riders completed the day’s action in less than two hours. UAE biker Mohammed Al-Balooshi was again the fastest and the stage win sealed outright victory for the FIM Bajas World Cup champion by 3min 33sec.

Anas Al-Rahyani finished the day’s action a mere 18 seconds adrift of the Emirati to confirm second place in the standings and fellow countryman Abdulhalim Al-Mogheera rounded off the podium places after Qatar-based Australian rider Martin Chalmers broke down and dropped out of contention on the final morning. The Emirati duo of Hamdan Al-Ali and Marwan Al-Ramani finished fourth and fifth.

Qatar-based Belgian Emiel Stuckens incurred a 16-minute penalty before the start of the final stage for missing a route waypoint on Friday and that took the pressure off overnight leader Haitham Al-Tuwaijri. The Saudi was able to cruise to a comfortable victory in the quad category on his Yamaha, the FIM Baja series regular finishing the event 27min 10sec ahead of the Belgian.

Hani Al-Noumesi came home in third and Abdulaziz Al-Atawi was fourth, having been penalised by 18 minutes for a similar waypoint offence to Stuckens.

The event was organised by the Saudi Automobile and Motorcycle Federation (SAMF), in conjunction with the Ministry of Sport, and in alliance with Abdul Latif Jameel (ALJ) Motors Toyota as the official partner and strategic partner Saudi Investment Bank (SAIB). It ran under the supervision of SAMF President H.R.H. Prince Khalid bin Sultan Al-Abdullah Al-Faisal.

The final round of the 2023 Saudi Toyota Championship takes place in Jeddah on December 14th-16th.

Yazeed Al-Rajhi on day two in Rally Qassim

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