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100 drivers begin training at Toyota Rally School.

Byline: K.S. Ramkumar

JEDDAH: One hundred young drivers, selected from 12,000 applicants, began their training in driving and rally skills at Toyota Rally School at Durat-Al-Arous here yesterday. The trainees are in 18-30 age group and are being coached by well-known British trainer Bill Gwynne and his assistant Nicholas Bolt. The training program, to continue for four days, has been initiated to select a driver to represent the Toyota Rally Team at the 2009 Hail Rally set in Hail from Jan. 26-28, according to Saudi Rally Champion Abdullah Bakhashab whose establishment is conducting the training and also the upcoming Hail Rally.

The Toyota Rally Team consists of 15 drivers, but the driver finally selected at the ongoing training camp will be the first to participate in a home rally, in Hail. He will drive the Toyota FJ Cruiser, which took the pride of place at the recent Saudi International Motor Show in the city.

Bakhashab, who is credited with the development of motorsport in the Kingdom, himself trained by Bill Gwynne, who runs a rally school in his home country, in 1990. Rally enthusiasts sent in their applications for training at the kingdomwide showrooms of Abdul Latif Jameel Co. Ltd., the exclusive Saudi agent for Toyota and sponsor of the Toyota Rally School. Mobil 1 is the school's cosponsor. Bakhashab evaluated the 12,000 applicants and short-listed the candidates for training. "The 100 drivers selected meet the required qualification and have passed physical fitness tests," Bakhashab said. The drivers, divided into four groups of 25 each, will go through the training program from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily. The training program is in two phases - theoretical and practical. There will also be lectures on safe driving and general information about rallies. As for the practical side, there will be training on skills for safe driving, car control at high speed, professionalism and team leadership. Following the training on the first two days, 15 drivers will be selected to enter the rally school. Their program wil include accurate information about rally on the theoretical side. The practical training will be on a well equipped track similar to rally competitions. The last day, Sunday, will be the decisive day in which the best driver will be selected to join the Toyota Rally Team Saudi Arabia.

"I am happy to return once again to Saudi Arabia, and am pleased to have trained Abdullah Bakhashab and proud of his achievements in the rallies in which he participated over the years," Gwynne said. "I am glad I will do it again, but this time under the supervision of Rally Champion Abdullah Bakhashab in order to find a new Saudi champion in the world of rallies," he added.

"Gwynne's guidance will help young people to develop their skills and give them the secrets of the sport, thus creating a generation of talented young drivers to reach international rally levels once again along the lines of the Toyota school, which was established in 2002 with champions like Majed Al-Ghamdi, Sultan Hamdi, Amro Shas and Abdullah Al-Dossari," Bakhashab said.

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Publication:Arab News (Jeddah, Saudi Arabia)
Date:Jan 9, 2009
Words:531
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