HA’IL, Saudi Arabia, March 13: Saudi Arabia’s Yazeed Al-Rajhi and German navigator Timo Gottschalk hammered home their advantage on the third selective section of the Ha’il Nissan International Rally on Sunday and will take an outright lead of 1hr 01min 46sec into Monday’s final competitive section.
The Hummer driver carded a time of 2hr 22min 56sec for the desert stage, run to the north and west of the city of Ha’il, and beat nearest rival Ahmed Al-Shegawi by 19min 24sec.
“I am enjoying the rally and able to extend my lead each day and I am on course to score a fifth win in Ha’il and the second in succession,” said Al-Rajhi. “I had no problems at all today. Everything went smoothly, but I didn’t drive on the limit. I took things easily. This is not my usual nature to do this, but I have a big gap to manage to the finish. I just hope that everyone can now finish the rally safely tomorrow.”
Rajah-Fahan Al-Shammeri moved into second overall in his Nissan after clocking the fifth quickest time. Ahmed-Abdullah Al-Shehail moved up to an unofficial third, Faris Al-Mashna was fourth and Nissan Middle East-backed Lebanese driver Emil Khneisser was fifth. There were also useful moves up the leader board for Ahmed Al-Sabban and Owaid Mansi into eighth and 11th in the unofficial results.
Al-Rajhi began the day’s selective section of 206.40km with an overall lead over Khalid Al-Fraihi of 37min 17sec. The competitive route began from Shot and wound its way through the An Nafud desert to a finish, near Jubbah.
Al-Rajhi started to carve out a lead from the start and reached the third checkpoint with a 4min 50sec advantage over Ahmed-Abdullah Al-Shehail, who began the day in eighth overall of the surviving 32 cars.
Qatar’s Sheikh Hamed bin Eid Al-Thani, former T3 front-running Emirati Khalid Al-Jaflah and Saudi’s Sami Al-Shammeri failed to start the stage after suffering technical issues on Saturday.
Khalid Al-Fraihi lost second in the overall standings after beginning the stage late; the Saudi realised that he had left his crash helmet at rally headquarters and had to wait for it to be collected before he could start.
Abdul-Majeed Al-Khulaifi headed into the penultimate selective section with a lead of 6min 15sec over Heshayan Al-Heshayan’s Yamaha in the quad category. Both Al-Khulaifi and Ahmed Al-Nasser maintained their respective quad and motorcycle leads to take into Monday’s final selective section and look on course to repeat last year’s successes. Al-Khulaifi extended his advantage over Al-Heshayan to 10min 21sec in the quads. Abdulsalem Hamam is third of the seven survivors.
The rally is being staged under the patronage of His Royal Highness Prince Saud Bin Abdul Mohsen Bin Abdul Aziz, Governor of Ha’il, President of the Supreme Commission for Ha’il Development and the Head of the Supreme Commission of the Ha’il Rally. The SAMF runs under the chairmanship of His Royal Highness Prince Sultan Bin Bandar Al-Faisal and the event is being organised in conjunction with the High Authority for the Development of Ha’il.
Sunday’s fourth and final selective section of 176.50 starts at 09.30hrs from Al-Farhaniyah and finishes at Qana. A liaison section of 54.91m then guides teams back to the finish in Ha’il.
Ha’il Nissan International Rally – leading positions after Leg 3 (unofficial @ 14.40hrs):
- Yazeed Al-Rajhi (SAU)/Timo Gottschalk (DEU) Hummer 6hr 37min 03sec
- Rajah-Farhan Al-Shammeri (SAU)/Mubarak Al-Shammeri (SAU) Nissan 7hr 38min 49sec
- Ahmed Abdullah Al-Shehail (SAU)/Rasheed Mslet (SAU) Nissan 7hr 44min 18sec
- Faris Al-Mashna (SAU)/Saud Al-Zayed (SAU) Nissan, 7hr 47min 08sec
- Emil Khneisser (LEB)/Alexei Kuzmich (RUS) Nissan, 8hr 05min 23sec
- Khalaf-Jouan Al-Shammeri (SAU)/Jouan Al-Shammeri (SAU) Toyota 8hr 05min 44sec
- Meshaal Al-Saeedi (SAU)/Bandar Al-Saeedi (SAU) Nissan 8hr 06min 25sec
- Ahmed Al-Sabban (SAU)/Adel Abdullah (QAT) Ford Raptor , 8hr 08min 48sec
- Khalid Al-Fraihi (SAU)/Ali Obaid (ARE) Nissan, 8hr 14min 54sec
- Munif Al-Salmani (SAU)/Ali Al-Sayari (SAU) Nissan, 8hr 24min 32sec
- Owaid Mansi (SAU)/Fahad-Obaid Al-Shammeri (SAU) Toyota, 8hr 24min 55sec