HA’IL (Saudi Arabia): Emirati Can-Am driver Khalid Al-Jafla stunned his Saudi rivals by setting the fastest time of 4hrs 35min 44sec on the third 351.04km stage of the 14th Ha’il Nissan International Rally between Radifah and Umm Al Qulban on Monday.
The result meant that the T3 category leader and his navigator Ahmed Malik stormed into the outright lead by a margin of 3min 51sec over the Saudi Arabian Nissan Patrol pairing of Faris Al-Moshana and Saud Al-Tamimi.
A delighted Al-Jafla said: “At the beginning of the stage there were a lot of dunes, very hard dunes and big bushes. We were fast because I knew the cars could not reach my speed in the sand. The last 190 kilometres were fast and there were huge rocks. I made all my time in the dunes and then I drove safely to the finish. I don’t have top speed, so tomorrow is flat and rocky. I will push myself.”
Overnight leader Khalid Al-Feraihi and his French navigator Sébastien Delaunay stopped to change a flat tyre and then lost considerable time following behind a car that had passed them. They slipped to ninth place.
Defending champion Essa Al-Dossari suffered brake problems on his ED Racing Nissan Navara on the road section to the stage start that dropped him to fourth overall after a dramatic day in the An Nafud deserts. He said: “I had no brakes at all for 140km of the stage. That is why I lost so much time. Now I must try again tomorrow.”
Saudi Arabian driver Ahmed Al-Shuhail held third place and ED Racing’s Emirati driver Abdullah Al-Heraiz climbed to fifth behind last year’s winner.
Saudi Arabia’s Muneef Al-Salmani is chasing a remarkable eighth victory in the T2 category for series production cross-country vehicles. He shone recently at the Fujairah Rally in the UAE and began the day with a comfortable category lead and ninth overall. But technical issues delayed the Saudi and opened the door for 11th-placed Meshaal Al-Saadi and his Omani co-driver Abdulhalim Al-Busaidi to snatch a T2 lead of 13min 52sec over Khalaf and Joaan Al-Juaan.
Salah Al-Dossari lost time with a puncture, while Raed Al-Enezi suffered a bout of dune sickness and was treated by medics before returning to Ha’il by road transfer. Neither Nasser Al-Ajmi nor Farhan Al-Ramali began the third day after technical issues on Sunday.
The 2014 event winner Ibrahim Al-Muhanna guided his Mercedes truck through the dunes to remain on course to bring a first ever T4 to the finish of the event.
Five-time event quad winner Abdulmajeed Al-Khulaifi hit the front with the fastest time on the second of the day’s specials and now leads fellow Saudi Abdulmajeed Aboud by four minutes. Khalifa Jassim Al-Raisi and Abdulsalem Hamam are third and fourth.
Sultan Al-Balooshi maintained his advantage in the motorcycle category with the third and second fastest times on the day’s two runs through a 49.04km special stage. The UAE rider now leads the two-wheel category by 22min 16sec from Ali Al-Balooshi. Abdullah bin Dakhan is a distant third, but Emirati Mohammed Al-Shamsi began the stage and then returned to Ha’il without finishing the day’s competition.
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.
Action concludes on New Year’s Day with a timed section of 170.02km that starts 114.24km from rally HQ at the town of Al Ghazalah and finishes back in Ha’il.
14th Ha’il Nissan International Rally – positions after SS3 (unofficial @15.30hrs):
1. Khaled Al-Jafla (UAE)/Ahmed Malik (UAE) Can-Am T3 7hrs 03min 18sec
2. Faris Al-Moshana (SAU)/Saud Al-Tamimi (SAU) Nissan 7hrs 07min 09sec
3. Ahmed Al-Shuhail (SAU)/Rasheed Al-Shammeri (SAU) Nissan Patrol 7hrs 08min 03sec
4. Essa Al-Dossari (SAU)/Ali Hassan Obaid (ARE) Nissan Patrol 7hrs 08min 26sec
5. Abdullah Al-Heraiz (UAE)/Ali Mirza (UAE) Nissan Pick-Up 7hrs 10min 45sec
6. Mutair Al-Shammeri (SAU)/Raed Al-Asaf (SAU) Nissan 7hrs 12min 13sec
7. Salman Al-Mashan (SAU)/Ziad Al-Harbi (SAU) Toyota Land Cruiser 7hrs 13min 46sec
8. Sami Al-Shammeri (SAU)/Abdullah Al-Shammeri (SAU) Nissan 7hrs 17min 36sec
9. Khalid Al-Feraihi (SAU)/Sebastian Delaunay (FRA) Nissan 7hrs 24min 48sec
10. Metab Al-Qnoon (SAU)/Abdullah Al-Qnoon (SAU) Nissan 7hrs 30min 08sec
11. Meshaal Al-Saadi (SAU)/Abdulhalim Al-Busaidi (OMN) Nissan T2 7hrs 38min 43sec
12. Khalaf Al-Juaan (SAU)/Joaan Al-Juann (SAU) Nissan T2 7hrs 52min 35sec
1. Talal Al-Thukair (SAU)/Kinill Shubin (RUS) Can-Am 7hrs 20min 19sec
2. Khalil Al-Tawijri (SAU)/Waleed Al-Tawijri (SAU) Can-Am 7hrs 31min 52sec
3. Abdulrahman Al-Afaliq (SAU)/Turki Al-Khuraimi (SAU) Can-Am 7hrs 40min 07sec
1. Ibrahim Al-Muhanna (SAU)/Osama Al-Sanad (SAU) Mercedes Truck T4 TBA
1. Abdulmajeed Al-Khulaifi (SAU) Yamaha 3hrs 11min 35sec
2. Abdulmajeed Aboud (SAU) Yamaha 3hrs 15min 35sec
3. Khalifa Jassim Al-Raisi (UAE) Honda 3hrs 20min 19sec
4. Abdulsalem Hamam (SAU) Yamaha 5hrs 21min 56sec
1. Sultan Al-Balooshi (UAE) KTM 3hrs 12min 09sec
2. Ali Al-Balooshi (UAE) KTM 3hrs 34min 25sec
3. Abdullah Bin Dakhan (UAE) Yamaha 6hrs 13min 57sec
4. Mohammed Al-Shamsi (UAE) KTM 7hrs 36min 40sec