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Saudi Arabia’s WRC star Yazeed Al-Rajhi tops the entry list for Rally Jeddah, the Kingdom’s new cross-country event that gets underway on Thursday afternoon in Obhur with the start podium and a three-kilometre timed prologue stage.

The Riyadh-based driver heads a provisional starting list of 38 cars, one truck and eight bikes and quads, which will tackle two days of off-road action in the deserts around Wadi Al-Khariq.

Al-Rajhi has an impressive pedigree in cross-country rallies in his native Saudi Arabia and is the clear favourite to win the inaugural event. He has triumphed three times in the last five years in the Ha’il Rally and was comfortably on course for a fourth win last season until he crashed and injured his back on a sand dune. French navigator Alex Winocq will partner the Saudi again.

While Al-Rajhi is likely to set the pace in his powerful Hummer, the T2 category should be hotly contested. Emirati veteran Yayha Al-Helai tops the entrants in his Nissan Patrol and Saudi’s Ahmed Al-Sabban will be hoping that his new Ford Raptor is competitive on its first event, despite the lack of development or any real time to test the Saluki Motorsport-prepared car beforehand.

Sultan Hamdi and Sami Al-Shammeri wheel out a pair of Bakhashab Saudi Isuzu Team D-Max models, while Yaser Al-Saedan will be hoping for success in his Toyota Land Cruiser. Egyptian Mohammed El-Antabi also drives a D-Max and there are further T2 entries for the likes of Saudi’s Tariq Saleh Al-Rammah, Issa Al-Dossari, Yahia Halawi and Nayyaf Al-Shibani.

Further resistance for Al-Rajhi in the T1 category should come from Ahmed Al-Shegawi, Moteb Al-Shammeri, Saleh Said Al-Hoot, the Qatari driver Mohammed Al-Mannai and a trio of Toyotas driven by Owaid Mansi Al-Shammeri, Farhan Al-Ghalib Al-Shammeri and Nawaf Aseran.

Eight bikes and quads will start the inaugural Rally Jeddah. The experienced Emirati quad rider Atif Al-Zarouni leads the way on his Honda. A regular competitor in events like the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge and the Sealine Cross-Country Rally in Qatar, Al-Zarouni is the firm favourite to win the category, having achieved outright success on his quad in last year’s Ha’il International Rally in the north of the Kingdom.

Six Saudi riders - including Nadir Khayat, Abdullah Ghazi Al-Shoaby and Hamad Al-Hdayan - and Egyptian rider Rakan Al-Sallum offer the competition.

Saudi Turky Al-Sudairy and his French co-driver Samir Bin Bakhti have entered a solitary MAN truck in the T4 category and Saleh Al-Sallum will wheel out a Polaris in T3.

The event is being held under 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.

Rally Jeddah is being organised with the support of the Higher Committee of the Jeddah Rally which incorporates the General Presidency of Youth Welfare, Jeddah Municipality, the Jeddah Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiques in the Mecca region, a branch of the Saudi Red Crescent in Mecca, the Jeddah Police and Traffic Departments and Civil Defence Administration in Jeddah. MYN Motors is supplying Land Rovers as the official car for Rally Jeddah.

Tomorrow (Thursday), competitors will cross the start ramp from 15.30hrs and head directly into a short three-kilometre prologue stage before returning to the overnight halt for a service stop at the Jeddah beach resort of Durrah.

The first 138km opening selective section takes place on Friday. After a morning service in Durrah, crews head to Al-Buraikat for the 11.15hrs start of a timed section that finishes near Buraukah.

A second 139km selective through the remote deserts in the Jeddah region starts at 12.25hrs and again finishes at Buraukah and precedes the finish celebrations in Obhur from 19.20hrs.

Spectators can follow all the news for Rally Jeddah on Facebook, flicker, Twitter and Instagram (rallyJeddah).

Leading starters (unofficial)
201. Yazeed Al-Rajhi (KSA)/Alex Winocq (FRA) Hummer Dbug
202. Yayha Al-Helai (UAE)/Khalid Al-Kendi (UAE) Nissan Patrol
203. Ahmed Al-Sabban (KSA)/Adel Hussein (QAT) Ford Raptor
204. Ibrahim Al-Muhanna (KSA)/Ali Hasan (KSA) Nissan Patrol
205. Yaser Al-Saedan (KSA)/TBA Toyota Land Cruiser
206. Ahmed Al-Shegawi (KSA)/Arif Yousef Mohammed (UAE) Nissan Patrol
207. Sultan Hamdi (KSA)/TBA Isuzu D-Max
208. Matar Al-Mansoori (UAE)/TBA Nissan Patrol
209. Moteb Al-Shammeri (KSA)/Issa Al-Shammeri (KSA) Toyota
210. Saleh Said Al-Hoot (KSA)/Mohammed Ahmed (KSA) Nissan Patrol

1. Atif Al-Zarouni (UAE) Honda 450
2. Nadir Khayat (KSA) Yamaha Raptor
3. Hamad Al-Hdayan (KSA) Yamaha 700
4. Sultan Al-Masood (KSA) Suzuki 450
5. Abdulaziz Al-Hathlul (KSA) Honda 450
6. Abdulmajeed Al-Khulaifi (KSA) Honda 450
7. Rakan Al-Sallum (EGY) Honda 700
8. Abdullah Ghazi Al-Shoaby (KSA) Yamaha 700

Jeddah (Saudi Arabia) - Dubai - Cairo

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