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Saleh Alabdelali storms into surprise lead in Hail Nissan Rally.

Mohammed Al-Balooshi on his way to stage 2 victory on Thursday. (Photo/Supplied ) Short Url

HAIL: Saudi driver Saleh Alabdelali and Norwegian navigator Ole Floene were the new leaders of the car category after the second 352 kilometer (km) selective section of the 15th Hail Nissan Rally on Thursday.

Pre-race favorite Yazeed Al-Rajhi and Irish co-driver Michael Orr had a useful lead at the start of the day's action but were forced to retire with a front right wheel issue. The bolts were all in place when the wheel sheared on the Riyadh driver's Toyota Hilux.

At the wheel of a Hummer, their Yazeed Racing Team colleagues duly found themselves returning to the night halt in Hail with an outright lead of 19 minutes, 43 seconds over the veteran Czech driver Miroslav Zapletal and his Slovakian navigator Marek Sykora.

Alabdelali said: "The stage was very long. I am happy to win the stage and to be leading the rally. I want to win now. It is sad that Yazeed is out. I saw him stopped and went to see him. He told me to go, go, go because I could not help him, so I carried on. I have a big lead now so I can take it easy."

Zapletal finished the stage in sixth. He said: "I enjoyed it. The stage at the beginning was very rough with a lot of stones. I could not drive fast so I took it easy. The second part of the stage was a bit faster. I am happy to be second. I had a problem to go up one of the dunes and, after 140 km, we had a problem with the navigation and we lost a lot of time."


Mohammed Al-Balooshi on top on two wheels; Sufyan Al-Omar extends quad lead.

Mutair and Hani Al-Shammeri moved up to third place in their T1 Nissan after setting the second fastest time on the stage. Saleh Al-Saif and Yasser Al-Shammeri came home in fifth and climbed to fourth and held a comfortable advantage in the T3 section.

Al-Mushanna Al-Shammeri was fifth and Muneef Al-Salmani switched to a T1 Nissan, and holds sixth place overall. Khaled Al-Hamazani held the advantage in the T2 category for series production cross-country vehicles and was classified in 13th overall, but Saeed Al-Shammeri retired for the day's stage.

Sultan and Mohammed Al-Balooshi rode together for much of the day and the latter carved out the motorcycle stage win after starting behind his brother. The Abu Dhabi rider heads into day three with a three-second advantage over his KTM counterpart.

Fellow Emirati Rashid Ali Hassan was third on the day's stage, but Saudi Arabia's Anas Al-Ruhayani holds a distant third in the general classification. The UAE's Ali Ashoor retired.

Sufyan Al-Omar extended his lead in the quad category to 2 minutes 41 seconds with a second successive stage win. Riyadh Al-Oraifan was second to consolidate a similar position in the overall standings. Abdulaziz Al-Shayban, Sultan Al-Masoud and Abdulsalem Al-Hamam reached the day's end in third, fourth and fifth overall, but multiple former quad category winner Abdulmajeed Al-Khulaifi retired.

The rally is being held under the patronage of Hail Gov. Prince Abdul Aziz bin Saad Al-Saud and Prince Faisal bin Fahd Al-Saud, the chairmanship of Prince Khalid bin Sultan Al-Faisal, and the supervision of the Hail Regional Development Authority, in cooperation with the General Authority for Tourism and National Heritage and the General Authority for Sport.

The third and penultimate stage takes place on Friday in the An Nafud Desert.

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Author:Arab News
Publication:Arab News (Jeddah, Saudi Arabia)
Date:Feb 7, 2020
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