Dubai rally podium place gives Saudi Arabian driver hope for Abu Dhabi race

Yasir Seaidan in action in the Dubai International Baja where the Saudi driver finished third. (Neil Perkins/Overdriv
Updated 11 March 2018

Dubai rally podium place gives Saudi Arabian driver hope for Abu Dhabi race

DUBAI: Stepping down off the podium at the Dubai International Baja this weekend, Saudi Arabia’s Yasir Seaidan immediately turned his attention to the next round of the FIA World Cup for Cross Country Rallies in neighboring emirate, Abu Dhabi, later this month.
Seaidan’s third-place finish at the three-day, 173.69km race marked his best-ever finish and ensured the Overdrive Racing driver climbed to fourth in the overall World Cup standings after two rounds. The 40-year-old finished just five minutes 40 seconds behind Jakub Przygonski despite it being only his second time racing his V8-powered Toyota Hilux. Russia’s Vladimir Vasilyev finished second.
“It was a really good race for me,” Riyadh-born Seaidan told Arab News. “The first day was difficult as it was only my second time racing for Overdrive and the first time for me driving the Hilux in the dunes. I got stuck a couple of times in the sand, which lost me some time.
“(Yesterday) though was much better as I started understanding more about the car. I had to con­stantly battle Vasilyev to make up time against him, but I’m extremely happy to come out on top, cross the line before him and complete a good result for me and the team.”
Seaidan had said ahead of the race that he intended to break a cycle of fifth-place finishes and was aiming for a podium. Despite coping well with the suffocating heat and rigors of the opening super special stage on Thursday, his luck turned on the second day when when he lost more than four minutes rooted in the Al-Qudra desert. With sand dunes being the Saudi’s self-professed speciality, it looked like fifth might be a good result, yet he and co-driver Alexei Kuzmich turned it around on the final day.
Jean-Marc Fortin, the CEO of his Belgian marque, was left mightily impressed — as well as wondering what might have been.
“This is a fantastic first podium for Yasir,” said Overdrive Racing’s Fortin. “With the stage time that he showed, it is really amazing how he has driven in the dunes. This is only the second time that he has been racing in T1 with this car, so making his first podium in only his second race is very impressive. It’s a real shame he got stuck because, when we looked at the data, had he not, he would have been challenging for the lead.”
The FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Rallies remains in the UAE, but will move down Sheikh Zayed Road toward Abu Dhabi for the first of the longer events, the unforgiving Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge, which runs from March 24-29. Seaidan is aware expectations will be higher now, but said he will travel to the event in positive spirits.
“Yes, I can go there with confidence,” he said. “It will be difficult as many professional drivers are making the journey to Abu Dhabi, but we will see.”
In the T2 production cars class, it was more positive news for Saudi Arabian motorsport as Ahmed Al-Sheghawi, accompanied by French co-driver Laurent Lichtleuchter in a Toyota Landcruiser, claimed the win.


What next for Premier League’s ‘Project Restart’

Updated 03 June 2020

What next for Premier League’s ‘Project Restart’

  • Restart to begin with 2 matches on June 17, to ensure every side played same number of games

LONDON: The Premier League's return is just two weeks away but there are plenty of details for the 20 clubs in the English top-flight to work out before competitive action resumes on June 17.

AFP Sport looks at what is on the agenda at the latest in a series of meetings between the clubs on Thursday.

There have been squabbles over how final league standings should be decided if the season cannot be completed but clubs need a contingency arrangement if a spike in coronavirus cases wrecks their plans.

Most of the teams in the bottom half of the table are reportedly pushing for relegation to be scrapped if the season is not completed on the field.

That still seems highly unlikely, with the English Football Association and English Football League both insisting on promotion and relegation throughout the pyramid.

A points-per-game formula is the most likely option and is part of the reason why the restart will begin with two matches on June 17, to ensure every side has played the same number of games.

Once the two outstanding games — Manchester City vs. Arsenal and Aston Villa vs. Sheffield United — have been played, all 20 sides will have nine games remaining.

No dates for other matches have yet been released, but fixtures are expected to continue from where they left off in March and be crammed into just five weeks ahead of the FA Cup final on August 1.

A long layoff, little time together in contact training and a gruelling schedule mean players' bodies will be pushed to the limits.

In an attempt to minimize injuries and fatigue, world governing body FIFA has allowed leagues to temporarily change their rules to allow five substitutes.

Chelsea have also reportedly proposed increasing the number of substitutes available from seven to nine.

However, critics have suggested those changes will simply play into the hands of the bigger clubs with deeper squads.

Premier League clubs appear to have won their battle to have games played in their own grounds rather than on neutral sites.

However, the UK's national lead for football policing confirmed last week that a "small number" of fixtures will take place at neutral venues.

That is likely to include any match that could see Liverpool crowned champions for the first time in 30 years, to try and avoid crowds gathering at Anfield.

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp is unconcerned by playing at neutral venues, with results from four rounds of Germany's Bundesliga showing no advantage for home sides in a closed-doors environment.

"We will not have the help from the crowd but no team will have that, so where is the advantage?" Klopp told the BBC.

"Whoever we play it is the same situation, which is why I'm not too worried about it."

The use of VAR could also be dispensed with for the rest of the season should the clubs wish to further cut the number of people required for games to go ahead.

However, the Premier League's CEO Richard Masters is keen for it to remain.

"VAR has its own social-distancing issues, but we think there is a way of completing the season with VAR," Masters told Sky Sports.