Al-Rajhi pips Sainz on opening stage of Sharqiya Baja motor race in Alkhobar

Yazeed Al-Rajhi in action on Thursday. (Supplied)
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Updated 12 December 2019

Al-Rajhi pips Sainz on opening stage of Sharqiya Baja motor race in Alkhobar

ALKHOBAR: Saudi Arabia’s Yazeed Al-Rajhi beat two-time Dakar Rally champion Carlos Sainz by 1.2 seconds to claim the fastest time over an extended opening 6.34km stage at the Sharqiya Baja on Thursday.

Forty-nine cars, 7 NUTVs, 14 motorcycles, 16 quads and 1 truck took the official start of the fifth and final round of the inaugural Saudi Toyota Desert Rally Championship on Half Moon Bay near Alkhobar.

Driving a Toyota Hilux alongside navigator Michael Orr, Al-Rajhi carded a time of 3min 59.4sec and will be first on the road when the action switches to the open desert on Friday morning. Sainz and co-driver Lucas Cruz are using the event as a pre-Dakar shakedown in the first of two X-raid MINI Buggies.

Abu Dhabi Racing’s Sheikh Khalid Al-Qassimi finished the stage in third place, 7.9 seconds off the lead, while Czech Miroslav Zapletal and Al-Rajhi’s title rival Yasir Seaidan rounded off the top five.

ED Racing’s Essa Al-Dossari was the best of the rest in his Nissan Navara from Saleh Al-Abdelali’s seventh-placed Hummer and Ahmed Al-Shegawi in eighth.

Zimbabwe’s Conrad Rautenbach and Portuguese co-driver Pedro Bianchi Prata used their PH Sport Can-Am Zephyr for the first time in the T3 category and held ninth place overall and an advantage of 4.7 seconds over 11th-placed Saleh Al-Saif at the end of the stage. 

Salman Al-Shammeri posted the target of 5min 20.4sec in the T2 section for series production cross-country vehicles, but that was eclipsed by Yousef Al-Suwaidi’s run of 5min 12.6sec.

Ibrahim Al-Muhanna, Osama Al-Sanad and Raed Abo Theeb safely negotiated the short special in their T4 Mercedes, while Zakariya Al-Tuwaijri held a 2.6-second lead over Majed Al-Tuwaijri in the NUTVs.

Motorcycles tackled the stage first and Mishal Alghuneim set the target time of 5min 54.2sec on his KTM and that was enough to claim the fourth quickest time on two wheels. The stage win fell to Emirati rider Othman Al-Ghufeli on a Honda with a run of 5min 39.0sec. The Saudi duo of Mohammed Al-Muaikil and Fahad Al-Hijab were second and third.

Sufiyan Al-Omar laid down the gauntlet in the quad category with an unofficial opening stage of 4min 46.3sec and that was 8.9 seconds faster than the time set by title contender Abdulmajeed Al-Khulaifi. Abdullah Al-Shegawi completed the special in third, but Al-Khulaifi’s main series rival Riyadh Al-Oraifan dropped three minutes and came home in 16th.

The event is organized by the Saudi Automobile and Motorcycle Federation (SAMF), under the chairmanship of Prince Khalid bin Sultan Al-Abdullah Al-Faisal and the supervision of former FIA Middle East champion Abdullah Bakhashab.

Inclement weather conditions and heavy rain on Tuesday and a poor forecast for the weekend forced Baja officials to make last minute changes to the weekend’s route through the desert. The service park was also moved.

On Friday, competitors tackle a shortened selective section of 197.18km in place of the original 257.44km through the deserts of the Kingdom’s Eastern Province. Saturday’s final timed section has been reduced from 213.10km to 171.25km, so officials have lost around 100km of stage distance due to the weather.


Recalled Malik leads Pakistan’s win over Bangladesh

Updated 24 January 2020

Recalled Malik leads Pakistan’s win over Bangladesh

  • Bangladesh could not put a reasonable fight, making it easy for Pakistan to chase the target
  • The win further consolidated Pakistan’s chances of hanging on to their world number one ranking in T20

LAHORE: Recalled Shoaib Malik smashed a solid half-century to anchor Pakistan’s five-wicket win over Bangladesh in the first Twenty20 international in Lahore on Friday.
Malik’s 45-ball 58 not out for his eighth Twenty20 fifty as Pakistan overhauled a modest 142-run target in 19.3 over to take a 1-0 lead in the three-match series.
Bangladesh had managed 141-5 in their 20 overs with openers Mohammad Naim scoring 41-ball 43 and Tamim Iqbal hit 34-ball 39 as Pakistan’s three-man pace attack kept them in check on a flat Gadaffi stadium pitch.
The win further consolidated Pakistan’s chances of hanging on to their world number one ranking in the shortest format. If they lose any of the remaining matches — on Saturday and Monday, also in Lahore, Australia will replace them at the top.
Lahore’s foggy weather prompted Pakistan Cricket Board to start the match at 2pm (0900 GMT) but it failed to attract more than 10,000 people in a capacity of 24,000 stadium.
Bangladesh could not put a reasonable fight as Pakistan won their first match after losing six of their last seven T20 matches with one washed out.
Malik, playing his first match since February last year, was in sublime form as he hit five boundaries and added 46 for the third wicket with debutant Ahsan Ali who made 32-ball 36 with four boundaries.
Malik, fourth leading run-getter in Twenty20 internationals with 2321 in a record 112 matches, credited bowlers for the win.
“Congratulations to the whole Pakistan for this win and for hosting another match,” said Malik. “It wasn’t an easy pitch and our bowlers restricted them to a gettable total.
“It’s tough to be in and out of the team but I have been playing leagues and domestic cricket and that helped me stage a comeback in this match.
“I am happy to help achieve this win in a chase.”
But Pakistan’s chase was initially jolted when they lost world number one Twenty20 batsman Babar Azam on only the second ball into their innings, caught behind off an inside edge off fast bowler Shafiul Islam.
Shafiul was the best Bangladeshi bowler with 2-27.
Another recalled batsman Mohammad Hafeez hit three crisp boundaries and was looking in good touch before he miscued a flick and was caught off Mustafizur Rahman for 17.
Malik and Ahsan took Pakistan to 81 and before Iftikhar Ahmed (16) added a further 36 for the fourth wicket but even the fall of Iftikhar and Imad Wasim (six) did not derail Pakistan.
Earlier, Bangladesh, who won the toss and opted to bat, were off to a good start as Iqbal and Naim put on 70 for the opening wicket.
Naim, fresh from his top score of 81 against India in November last year, cracked three boundaries and a six while Iqbal had four boundaries and a six but Pakistan pulled the scoring rate between 12-15 overs which yielded just 21 runs.
Iqbal was run out in the 11th over while Naim holed out off spinner Shadab Khan in the 15th.
Skipper Mahmudullah hit two boundaries in his 14-ball 19 not out.
Pakistan handed Twenty20 debuts to opener Ahsan and pacer Haris Rauf.