Seaidan maintains lead as Al-Rajhi wins second stage of AlUla–Neom Cross-Country Rally

Yazeed Al-Rajhi recorded the fastest time of 1:39:40 in his Toyota Hiluxat the start of the second day of the Saudi Toyota Desert Rally Championship. (Supplied)
Updated 07 November 2019

Seaidan maintains lead as Al-Rajhi wins second stage of AlUla–Neom Cross-Country Rally

  • Emirati Khalid Al-Qassimi slips a place to third in the overall rankings in his Peugeot 2008

ALULA: Yasir Seaidan maintained his outright lead in the AlUla–Neom Cross-Country Rally, but saw his advantage trimmed to 2 minutes 52 seconds by fellow Saudi Arabian Yazeed Al-Rajhi on the second 212 kilometer loop stage through the deserts around Al-Ula on Thursday.

Seaidan had guided his MINI All4 Racing to a lead of 5 minutes 45 seconds at the start of the second day of the third round of the Saudi Toyota Desert Rally Championship, but Al-Rajhi recorded the fastest time of 1:39:40 in his Toyota Hilux; Seaidan came third behind Abu Dhabi Racing’s Khalid Al-Qassimi.

“The stage today was the same as yesterday,” said Al-Rajhi. “I pushed hard and I am happy with my time. After 130 kilometers, I slowed down because of the dust from the car in front. I was in the dust for the last 70 kilometers. Hopefully I can continue like this with this pace on Friday.”

Despite finishing as the stage runner-up, Al-Qassimi slipped a place to third in the overall rankings in his Peugeot 2008, but closed the gap on the leader to 4 minutes, 42 seconds. The Emirati said: “Today was quite fast and tricky. We don’t really have as good a top speed as the other cars. It is a buggy at the end of the day. It is not easy and we took some risks to be on the pace with the other cars.”

The new Spanish pairing of Formula One star Fernando Alonso and Marc Coma continued their learning curve with fourth place for the second day in the second of the Toyota Hiluxes, with Alonso staying clear of trouble to post a time of 1:47:15 seconds that leaves him 11:46 off the lead.

He said: “It was the same as yesterday, but I pushed more and was a bit faster because I have more knowledge of the stage. I am happy with my stage, especially with the first part, where we were 8 seconds behind Yazeed. I got a puncture today but I had more confidence than yesterday. Friday’s stage will be new for everyone and this is the learning curve for me.”

Czech Miroslav Zapletal displaced Essa Al-Dossary and climbed to fifth overall in his Ford F-150 Evo after beating his Nissan rival by 83 seconds on the day’s special.

The best of the rest was Saudi Arabia’s Khalid Al-Feraihi at the helm of his Nissan Patrol and the Saudi climbed to seventh in the rankings with French navigator Stéphane Duplé. Ahmed Al-Shegawi lost over 40 minutes and plummeted from seventh to 21st overall after his car rolled near the finish and he needed outside assistance to complete the day’s selective section.

The Saudi trio of Mutair Al-Shammeri, Mohammed Al-Tijiwri and new TL2 category leader Salman Al-Shammeri rounded off the top 10 of the event, organized by the Saudi Automobile and Motorcycle Federation (SAMF), under the chairmanship of Prince Khalid bin Sultan Al-Abdullah Al-Faisal and supervision of former FIA Middle East champion Abdullah Bakhashab.

Salman Al-Shammeri now leads the showroom TL2 category by 2:11 from Sallal Al-Dossari.

Saleh Al-Saif climbed a position to 14th in the overall standings and maintained his lead in the T3 section in a Can-Am. Race officials also ran an NUTV class for Can-Am, Yamaha and Polaris derivatives and Yousef Al-Dhaif teamed up with French co-driver Laurent Lichtleuchter to head the category by 25:48 after two stages.

Among the retirements were Mohammed Alabdulali from the NUTV section and Hummer driver Saleh Al-Abdulali, while Ibrahim Al-Muhanna did not start the stage in the T4 truck category.

KTM rider Mishal Alghuneim was the solitary survivor in the motorcycle class after Mohammed Al-Oraini and Abdullah Al-Helal both retired. Abdulmajeed Al-Khulaifi extended his lead in the quad section to 34:23 after an impressive fastest time that left closest rivals Riyadh Al-Orafan and Walid Al-Shegawi trailing in his wake.

Competitors will tackle a new stage of 231 kilometers from Al-Ula to Neom that will take them through the village of Abu Gazaz on Friday.

The event is running with the support of SAMF, the General Sport Authority, Abdul Latif Jameel Motors (Toyota), the MBC Group, Al-Arabia outdoors and the Saudi Research and Marketing Group.

Test cricket to return to Pakistan with Sri Lanka’s visit

Updated 14 November 2019

Test cricket to return to Pakistan with Sri Lanka’s visit

  • Sri Lanka will play a two-match series at Rawalpindi and Karachi next month
  • The series is part of ICC’s World Test Championship

ISLAMABAD: Test cricket is set to return to Pakistan after more than 10 years when Sri Lanka plays a two-match series at Rawalpindi and Karachi next month.
Sri Lanka was the last team to play a test match in Pakistan in March 2009, when the team’s bus came under attack at Lahore. Eight people were killed during the terror attack, and several Sri Lankan players were injured.
All incoming tours were canceled after the attack and Pakistan later lost its status as a co-host for the 2011 Cricket World Cup.
The Pakistan Cricket Board on Thursday said Sri Lanka Cricket had confirmed next month’s tour would go ahead, based on the successful staging of a series of one-day and Twenty20 internationals at Karachi and Lahore in September and October.
Sri Lanka was originally scheduled to play the test series last month and then return to Pakistan for a limited-overs series in December. However, the tours were swapped so that Sri Lanka officials could assess the security situation in Pakistan before deciding on the test venues.
Rawalpindi is now scheduled to host the first test from Dec. 11-15, and the second test will be played at Karachi from Dec. 19-23. The series is part of ICC’s World Test Championship.
Zakir Khan, the PCB’s director of operations, said that the confirmation of next month’s test matches reflected confidence in Pakistan’s safety situation.
“This series is part of our cricket celebrations and we will leave no stone unturned in putting up a show which is a memorable one for the players, officials, fans and media,” Khan said.
Several top Sri Lanka players withdrew from the limited-overs series in Pakistan because of security concerns. Sri Lanka lost the ODI series 2-0 after the first game was washed out, but it’s second-string team sprung a huge surprise when it swept Pakistan 3-0 in the Twenty20 series at Lahore.
The SLC said it was satisfied with the visit and the high-level security provided for the team.
Sri Lanka Cricket chief executive Ashley de Silva said he believed cricket’s member nations should host their home matches in their own countries.
“We believe all cricket playing countries should host international cricket at home and in this relation we are happy to play our part in complete resumption of international cricket in Pakistan, which not only has a proud history but has been one of our biggest supporters in our early days as a cricket nation,” he said.
“We drew our opening World Test Championship series against New Zealand, and I anticipate, like in the past, these two tests will be exciting and competitive, and the fans will thoroughly enjoy the quality of cricket that will be on display.”
Pakistan has hosted its home games at neutral venues in the United Arab Emirates and in England during the last decade. The Pakistan team will play two test matches in Australia before returning for the series against Sri Lanka.