Yazeed Al-Rajhi leads after super special stage of Rally Qassim 2019

Yazeed Al-Rajhi at the start of the Rally Qassim 2019 on Thursday. Al-Rajhi leads the event after the super special stage. (Photo/Supplied)
Updated 18 October 2019

Yazeed Al-Rajhi leads after super special stage of Rally Qassim 2019

  • The Saudi ace in an Overdrive Racing Toyota Hilux leads Yasir Seaidan by 8.5 seconds

BURAIDAH: Saudi Arabia’s Yazeed Al-Rajhi and Ulster co-driver Michael Orr held an advantage of 8.5 seconds after the opening timed 3.55km super special stage of Rally Qassim 2019, the second round of the Saudi Toyota Desert Rally Championship, on Thursday afternoon.

Organized by the Saudi Automobile and Motorcycle Federation (SAMF), 56 cars, one truck, 13 motorcycles and seven quads were eventually flagged away from the start in Buraidah by  Prince Khalid bin Sultan Al-Abdullah Al-Faisal, chairman of the SAMF.

Driving an older specification Overdrive Racing Toyota Hilux, Al-Rajhi posted a time of 2min 58.2sec to hold the advantage over second-placed Yasir Seaidan’s X–raid built MINI All4 Racing and third-placed Sami Al-Gafari in the car category.

Abu Dhabi Racing’s Sheikh Khalid Al-Qassimi carded a time of 3min 17sec and held 10th place in his Peugeot 2008, despite feeling unwell and running a temperature.

Ahmed Al-Shegawi and Russian navigator Alexei Kuzmich led the T2 section in their Toyota Land Cruiser from closest rival Reda Al-Shammeri.

Al-Gafari topped a competitive T3 category at the wheel of his Can-Am Maverick X3 and held a fine third overall, with Saleh Al-Saif and Yousef Al-Dhaif tied in fifth overall and equal second in T3, a mere 0.3 seconds behind their fellow Saudi. 

UAE rider Mohammed Al-Balooshi topped the standings on two wheels on his KTM 450 Rally with a time of 3min 14.8sec, while the leading quad runner was multiple Ha’il International Rally winner Abdulmajeed Al-Khulaifi. He had got the competitive action underway on his Yamaha and finished the stage 4.8 seconds quicker than fellow Saudi Sufyan Al-Omar.

Rally Qassim 2019 is running with the support of the Saudi Automobile and Motorcycle Federation, the General Sport Authority, Abdul Latif Jameel Motors (Toyota), the MBC Group and Al-Arabia.

Two desert selective sections at Umm Sidrah and Al-Shamasiya make up the real meat of the desert off-road action on Friday and Saturday before the finishing ceremony starts at 18:10hrs on Saturday evening. 

Rally Qassim 2019  positions after SSS (cars  unofficial):

1. Yazeed Al-Rajhi (SAU)/Michael Orr (GBR) Toyota Hilux Overdrive — 2min 58.2sec

2. Yasir Seaidan (SAU)/Paulo Fiuza (PRT) MINI All4 Racing — 3min 06.7sec

3. Sami Al-Gafari (SAU)/Ibrahim Al-Mohammed (SAU) Can-Am Maverick X3 (T3 — 3min 10.8sec

4. Miroslav Zapletal (CZE)/Marek Sykora (SVK) Ford F-150 Evo — 3min 11.0sec

5. Saleh Al-Saif (SAU)/Muath Al-Arja (SAU) Can-Am Maverick X3 (T3) — 3min 11.1sec

5. Yousef Al-Dhaif (SAU)/Pedro Santos (PRT) Can-Am Maverick X3 (T3) — 3min 11.1sec

7. Khalil Al-Tuwaijri (SAU)/Waleed Al-Tuwaijri (SAU) Can-Am Maverick X3 (T3) — 3min 13.8sec

8. Essa Al-Dossari (SAU)/Sebastien Delaunay (FRA) Nissan Navara — 3min 14.3sec

9. Haytham Al-Tuwaijri (SAU)/Rakan Al-Tuwaijri (SAU) Can-Am Maverick X3 (T3) — 3min 14.4sec

10. Khalid Al-Qassimi (ARE)/Xavier Panseri (FRA) Peugeot 2008  — 3min 17.0sec

10. Majed Al-Twijri (SAU)/Ayman Al-Khurayef (SAU) Can-Am Maverick X3 (T3) — 3min 17.0sec


Thiem into ATP Finals semis as Djokovic and Federer face shootout

Updated 13 November 2019

Thiem into ATP Finals semis as Djokovic and Federer face shootout

  • Austrian fifth seed took fight to the world No. 2, recovering from losing the first set to triumph

LONDON: Dominic Thiem produced a scintillating display of attacking tennis to beat Novak Djokovic and qualify for the last four at the ATP Finals on Tuesday, leaving the Serbian facing a shootout against Roger Federer.

In the standout match so far at London’s O2 Arena, the Austrian fifth seed took the fight to the world No. 2, recovering from losing the first set to triumph 6-7 (5/7), 6-3, 7-6 (7/5)

Earlier, Federer put himself back in the mix at the end-of-season event with a 7-6 (7/2), 6-3 win against Italian debutant Matteo Berrettini in their round-robin clash.

Federer and Djokovic will face off on Thursday in a repeat of this year’s Wimbledon final to determine who else will progress from Group Bjorn Borg.

Thiem was forced to play high-stakes tennis against the 16-time Grand Slam winner, taking the breath away with some of his inside-out forehands and single-handed backhands

Forced to play at his limit, he hit 50 winners compared with Djokovic’s tally of 27 but also racked up 44 unforced errors.

“This was really one of these special matches, what I’ve practiced all my life for, all my childhood for,” Thiem said.

“Really epic one in an amazing atmosphere, beating a legend of our game. And also I’ve qualified for the semifinals, which is the best.

“Coming back from 1-4 (down in the deciding tie-break) was a little bit of luck, but it was an unbelievable match and one I’ll never forget. Novak is the best player in the world and I had to do something special.”

In a captivating first set the players swapped a break apiece but Djokovic, a five-time ATP Finals champion, edged the tie-break.

Undaunted, Thiem broke his opponent at the first opportunity in the second set and, with Djokovic’s error count climbing, went on to level the match.

Thiem also drew first blood in the decider but cracked in the sixth game as Djokovic levelled the match and appeared to have engineered a switch in momentum.

The Austrian successfully challenged at 30-30 in the 10th game after his forehand was ruled out, preventing a match point for Djokovic and he toughed it out to level at 5-5.

He then broke Djokovic to love to earn a chance to serve for the match but stumbled and the decider went to a tie-break.

Still the drama was not finished. Thiem slipped to 4-1 down but battled back to win it on his second match point when Djokovic dumped a forehand into the net.

Third seed Federer had put himself under the cosh by losing his opening round-robin match to Thiem. The six-time champion was not at his fluent best on Tuesday but ultimately had too much for his Italian opponent.

The Swiss upped his game to take the first set tie-break comfortably and broke immediately at the start of the second set to leave the big-serving Berrettini with too much to do.

Federer was asked after his win against Berrettini whether his defeat to Djokovic at Wimbledon had left emotional or mental scars.

“We’ll find out, but I think it’s all flushed away from my side,” said the Swiss.

“A lot of water has gone under the bridge since then.”

Djokovic is hunting a sixth ATP Finals title to pull level with Federer’s record and is also seeking to pip Rafael Nadal to the year-end number one ranking.

On Monday, top seed Nadal lost his opener in Group Andre Agassi to defending champion Alexander Zverev while Stefanos Tsitsipas beat Daniil Medvedev.