HA’IL (Saudi Arabia): Saudi Arabian driver Khalid Al-Feraihi and his French navigator Sébastien Delaunay were the leaders of the 14th Ha’il Nissan International Rally after the first desert stage on Sunday morning.
The Nissan Patrol driver carded a time of 2hrs 10min 28.9sec and that put him 3min 39.6sec in front of second-placed Essa Al-Dossari in his ED Racing Nissan Navara. The day’s stage ran for 189km and featured mainly sandy tracks and small dunes.
French navigator Delaunay is tackling the event for the fourth time. The leading co-driver said: “It is the first time together with me and Khalid. There was some quite difficult navigation and a lot of camel grass on the side of the track. You had to take care with the line. The dunes were not so soft and the cooler temperatures helped a lot. There were some very fast sandy sections. We pushed today. Tomorrow is a long stage and we have to do things differently, I guess.”
Overnight leader and defending champion Al-Dossari said: “Because I set the fastest time on the super special, I decided to start fifth today. I wanted the other cars to open the road. It was not a good strategy because Feraihi was so quick today. But he has to start first tomorrow and that might be a big advantage for us.”
ED Racing’s Emirati driver Abdullah Al-Heraiz suffered rear axle problems and lost his place inside the top three. He slipped to seventh overall and his place in the top three was taken by Ahmed Al-Shuhail, who set the fourth quickest time of the day in another Nissan.
Saudi Arabia’s Muneef Al-Salmani maintained ninth overall and the lead of the T2 category for series production cross-country vehicles in his Nissan Patrol. Veteran Abu Dhabi driver Yayha Al-Helai rolled his Nissan out of contention.
The UAE’s Khaled Al-Jafla moved ahead in the T3 category and held 10th overall in his Can-Am. Saleh Al-Saif lost his UTV lead and second in the general classification after stopping 35km into the stage with drive belt issues.
The 2014 event winner Ibrahim Al-Muhanna completed his first ever desert cross-country stage in the T4 Mercedes truck in a time of just over three hours.
Abdulmajeed Aboud snatched a two-second advantage over fellow Saudi rider Abdulmajeed Al-Khulaifi in the four-man quad battle. Khalifa Jassim Al-Raisi held third, but Abdulsalem Hamam lost time on the stage and slipped out of contention.
Sultan Al-Balooshi hit the front in the two-wheel motorcycle category with the fastest time. The defending champion now has a comfortable cushion over fellow Emirati Mohammed Al-Shamsi. Ali Al-Balooshi and Abdullah bin Dakhan are third and fourth.
The 14th edition of the event is being organised by the Ha’il Regional Development Authority in co-operation with the General Authority for Tourism and National Heritage and the General Authority for Sport. It is being held under the patronage of His Royal Highness Prince Abdul Aziz Bin Saud, Governor of Ha’il and President of the Supreme Commission for Ha’il Development.
After a run out of 99.92km from rally HQ on Monday morning, cars and drivers face a punishing second selective section of 351.04km that starts in Radifah and finishes at the desert village of Umm Al Qulban. Motorcycles and quads will tackle two shorter timed sections of 49.04km each.
14th Ha’il Nissan International Rally – positions after SS2 (unofficial @14.30hrs):
1. Khalid Al-Feraihi (SAU)/Sebastian Delaunay (FRA) Nissan 2hrs 13min 53.1sec
2. Essa Al-Dossari (SAU)/Ali Hassan Obaid (ARE) Nissan Patrol 2hrs 17min 32.7sec
3. Ahmed Al-Shuhail (SAU)/Rasheed Al-Shammeri (SAU) Nissan Patrol 2hrs 22min 44.6sec
4. Salman Al-Mashan (SAU)/Ziad Al-Harbi (SAU) Toyota Land Cruiser 2hrs 22min 46.6sec
5. Faris Al-Moshana (SAU)/Saud Al-Tamimi (SAU) Nissan 2hrs 23min 12.6sec
6. Mutair Al-Shammeri (SAU)/Raed Al-Asaf (SAU) Nissan 2hrs 23min 58.3sec
7. Abdullah Al-Heraiz (UAE)/Ali Mirza (UAE) Nissan Pick-Up 2hrs 24min 12.1sec
8. Ahmed Al-Shammeri (SAU)/Waleed Al-Fiuam (SAU) Nissan 2hrs 25min 41.0sec
9. Muneef Al-Salmani (SAU)/Abdulsalem Al-Nammesh (SAU) Nissan T2 2hrs 26min 06.3sec
10. Khaled Al-Jafla (UAE)/Ahmed Malik (UAE) Can-Am T3 2hrs 27min 34.9sec
1. Talal Al-Thukair (SAU)/Kinill Shubin (RUS) Can-Am 2hrs 20min 11.3sec
2. Khalil Al-Tawijri (SAU)/Waleed Al-Tawijri (SAU) Can-Am 2hrs 32min 55.4sec
3. Yousef Al-Dhaif (SAU)/Ahmed Al-Dhaif (SAU) Yamaha 2hrs 35min 27.3sec
1. Ibrahim Al-Muhanna (SAU)/Osama Al-Sanad (SAU) Mercedes Truck T4 3hrs 07min 22.7sec
1. Abdulmajeed Aboud (SAU) Yamaha 1hr 25min 04.9sec
2. Abdulmajeed Al-Khulaifi (SAU) Yamaha 1hr 25min 06.9sec
3. Khalifa Jassim Al-Raisi (UAE) Honda 1hr 30min 48.6sec
4. Abdulsalem Hamam (SAU) Yamaha 3hrs 33min 39.0sec
1. Sultan Al-Balooshi (UAE) KTM 1hr 21min 59.0sec
2. Mohammed Al-Shamsi (UAE) KTM 1hr 36min 40.7sec
3. Ali Al-Balooshi (UAE) KTM 1hr 45min 47.9sec
4. Abdullah Bin Dakhan (UAE) Yamaha 4hrs 33min 53.0sec