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This is the single-news section of the marathonrally.com news "Offroad & Motorsports". To see all news please use the link under the article or navigate with the left main-navigation.









Hail Saudi Baja: Competitors and Officials arrive in Hail.



The Middle East's premier off-road rally specialists and senior FIA officials and media from around the region have arrived in Hail, in north-central Saudi Arabia, for the start of this weekend's Hail Saudi Baja, an official candidate event for the 2008 FIA International Cup for Bajas. The event kicks off with a timed super special stage on Friday (February 9th) afternoon.

The event is being organised by the Saudi Motor Sports Committee (SMSC) over a challenging and panoramic desert, sand dune and mountaineous route under the patronage of the Governor of Hail, HRH Prince Saud bin Abdul Mohsen Bin Abdul Aziz, and with the full support of Hail Development Authority, the General Headquarters for Youth Welfare and the Higher Association for Tourism.

Hail (pronounced Hi'el) is one of the largest cities in the north of the vast Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and lies on a crucial transport route for pilgrims visiting Mecca and Medina from Jordan and Iraq to the north. The event ran for the first time on a low-key basis in Hail last year, before event officials took the decision to graduate to becoming a candidate for inclusion in the coveted FIA Baja series.

While the bulk of the teams in an impressive 35-car line-up of T1 and T2 vehicles are prepared in Saudi Arabia, no less than six UAE crews and drivers from Qatar and Italy will take part. The event is based at a functional convention centre situated between the scenic jagged rocky outcrops which surround the city of Hail.

The entire region has caught the motor sport bug and event officials are expecting around 50,000 people to flock to Hail this weekend. Hail Baja advertising billboards are evident all around the city along the wide, open highways and a trade show will take place at the Maghwat rally headquarters in Mashar.

Crucial event sponsors Al-Maraa'i, the Saudi Basic Industries Company (SABIC), Iqtisadiah newspapers, Al-Rasheed Engineering, MBC, Safra Power, Yamama Cement, Toyota, the Ahli Commercial Bank, Saudi Airways and Bison energy drink are taking advantage of the opportunity to carry out marketing campaigns at the trade show.

Former FIA Middle East rally champion Sheikh Hamed Bin Eid Al-Thani is one of the form drivers on the entry list and the Qatari arrives in Hail fresh from winning last year's UAE national rally series and taking an outright win in the Umm Al-Quwain Rally last week. "I took part in the first Hail event last year and really enjoy this type of race," said Al-Thani. "The locals always make us feel very welcome. The terrain is superb for rallying. The atmosphere is fantastic and I am sure that this event will have a golden future in the Baja championship."

Several European officials arrived in Hail on Tuesday evening with senior FIA officials, notably FIA Vice-President Derek Ledger, FIA Observer Ronan Morgan and Steward Fred Gallagher due to arrive with several members of the international media on Thursday.

Interest from the local media has been impressive and the Baja will be broadcast live by Saudi Arabian television. Several other television crews will attend the Baja and a film crew will also prepare a 40-minute edit for the Sky Sports 'World Motor Sport' programme, which is transmitted across Western Europe and covers many forms of top class international motor sport.

"We have been staggered by the interest in the event from the media," admitted Clerk of the Course Walid Mihyar. "We are anticipating around 180 media attending the event, mainly from Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Lebanon and the UAE. LBC, MBC, Al-Arabiya and Gear One are just three other networks sending television crews to film the event. That would be a record media attendance for a rallying event in the entire region."

Tomorrow (Thursday) documentation and administration checks will take place between 08.00hrs and noon at rally headquarters in Maghwat. Scrutineering and technical verification will take place at Hail's Toyota dealership between 10.00hrs and 17.00hrs and the official pre-event press conference will be held in the media centre at 19.00hrs.

The ceremonial start of the 2007 Hail Saudi Baja will take place at 14.00hrs on Friday, February 9th at the Prince Sultan Centre in Hail, prior to the opening timed two-kilometre super special which gets underway at 15.06hrs. Competitors can expect a chilly start to each of the two desert legs on Saturday and Sunday, with temperatures expected to drop below zero during the night. Although bright, dry and windy conditions are expected during the day.

2007/02/07 | 12:09 CET | Editor: MR/HS/Neil Perkins






















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