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

Hail Saudi Baja: Saudi Arabia set to host first Baja in 2008.

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia will host its first ever world championship motorsport event in February 2008, when the Hail Baja joins the FIA international calendar as the opening round of the six-round FIA International Cup for Cross-Country Bajas. The event will take place on February 15th-17th and joins other rounds of the increasingly-popular FIA series in Italy, Spain, Hungary, Wales and Portugal. The event will be based at the city of Hail in the north-central region of Saudi Arabia and is open to cars that comply with both FIA T1 and T2 regulations.

Regular WRC competitor and former FIA Middle East rally champion Abdullah Bakhashab was a member of the organising committee for the 2007 Hail Baja, which ran as an FIA candidate event last February. Bakhashab has been keen to see the Kingdom on the rally map for several years and he moves up to the role of Race Director in 2008, taking overall responsibility for the route and format of the Hail Baja.

Bakhashab took part in many regional rallies during his illustrious career, including the UAE Desert Challenge, which runs through the Rub Al-Khali every year as the traditional final round of the FIA Cross-Country Rallies World Cup. He has also been the key individual behind introducing young and up and coming Saudi rally drivers to the sport in recent years.

The 2008 event will be organised by the Saudi Motor Sports Committee (SMSC) under the patronage of HRH Prince Saud Bin Abdul Mohsen Bin Abdul Aziz, Governor of Hail, President of the Supreme Commission for Hail Development and the Head of the Supreme Commission of the Hail Rally. Mishaal Al-Sudairy will act at chairman of the organising committee for a second successive year.

"We are delighted to have been accepted into the FIA calendar for 2008," said Mishaal Al-Sudairy, chairman of the organising committee. "This is a major boost to motorsport, not only in Saudi Arabia but also in the entire Middle East region. We received favourable reports about the nature of the terrain we used last year for our candidate event and we look forward to welcoming overseas competitors in greater numbers in February 2008."

Driver entries for the 2008 event will open on Monday, November 26th (tomorrow) and close on Tuesday, January 29th. The event will again be centred at the first class Maghwat facility on the outskirts of Hail and competitors will face two days of daunting off-road action in the Nufud desert to the north of the city.

Scrutineering and documentation will take place on Thursday, February 14th and this will be followed by the ceremonial start at the Prince Sultan Center in Hail on Friday, February 15th at 2pm. Competitors will then head straight into a timed super special stage at 15.30hrs.

The first desert leg will take place between 07.00hrs and 15.00hrs on Saturday, February 16th, while the second and final leg of the 2008 Hail Baja will start at 09.00hrs on Sunday, February 17th and reach a conclusion at 15.30hrs. The ceremonial finish will take place at Maghwat from 6pm. There will be a final ceremony and gala dinner at the Veniesa Hall in Hail from 10pm on Sunday evening.

Entry details and more information about the event are available from the Saudi Motor Sport Committee, PO Box 87881, Riyadh 11652, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Tel: + 9661 477 1034, Fax: + 9661 477 1050 and from Mishaal Al-Sudairy, E-mail: [ ] or online at [ ] or [ ].

2008 FIA International Cup for Bajas

Saudi Arabian Hail Baja - February 15-17
Italian Baja - March 15-17
Baja Spain - July 17-20
Hungarian Baja - August 21-24
Baja GB (Wales) - September 25-28
Baja Portalegre (Portugal) - October 18-21

2007/11/26 | 16:54 CET | Editor: MR/HS/Neil Perkins

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