Saudi Arabian driver Essa Al-Dossari is returning to defend the Ha’il Nissan International Rally title he secured in January 2018.

The ED Racing driver will wheel out his powerful T1 Nissan Navara on the event being hosted by the Saudi Arabian Motor Federation (SAMF) through the An Nafud deserts between December 28th and January 1st, 2019.

The Saudi has also confirmed that ED Racing will run a second car, a T1 Nissan Pick-Up for the UAE-based driver Abdullah Al-Herais. Al-Herais took up rallying back in 2004 and was a front-runner in the first international FIA-sanctioned running of the Ha’il event that was won by Rajeh and Mubarak Al-Shammeri in 2007. The event had run as a club event in 2006.

Al-Dossari said: “I am taking part in the same car in which I won the Ha’il Rally in 2018. But we have made a lot of improvements and changes to the car. It has been set up in a way that will suit the terrain in Ha’il more. We found out last year at the events in the UAE that we had to change the way the car was set up to make it easier to drive through the dunes.

“I am not entering the rally alone. Under ED Racing, Abdullah Al-Herais will drive a Nissan Pick-Up and we will form a two-car team. Our goal is to finish the rally in first and second position.”

Last year, Al-Dossari and his Emirati co-driver Ali Hassan Obaid delivered an impressive performance to win the four-day event by the margin of 8min 42sec and give Nissan a second successive victory – Faris Al-Mashna and Saud Al-Taimi won in 2017 – and a third success in five years.

Samai Talab Al-Shammeri and Abdullah Mutar Al-Shammeri finished second overall in 2018 and Ahmed Al-Shuhail and Rasheed Al-Shammeri were third to give Nissan a 1-2-3 podium finish.

Rally officials have so far received 44 entries for the event, including 37 cars and seven motorcycles and quads. Drivers and riders will take part from Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the UAE.

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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.

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