HAIL: The 15th Hail Nissan Rally, round one of the 2020 Saudi Desert Rally Championship, on Tuesday got underway at a ceremonial start in Hail City.
The event, organized by the Saudi Automobile and Motorcycle Federation (SAMF), has attracted 58 cars and UTVs (utility terrain vehicles), one truck and 10 motorcycles and quads to tackle four selective sections through the An Nafud Desert from Wednesday to Saturday.
Top seed in the car category is defending Saudi Desert Rally champion, Yazeed Al-Rajhi, while fellow Saudi Abdulmajeed Al-Khulaifi tops the quad category and a group of Emirati riders start as favorites for success in the motorcycle section.
The rally is running under the chairmanship of Prince Khalid bin Sultan Al-Faisal and the supervision of the Hail Regional Development Authority in cooperation with the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage and the General Sports Authority.
SAMF Chairman Prince Khalid, said: “I am delighted with the progress we have made with the Hail Nissan Rally and I am especially happy that the event is a candidate for the 2021 FIA World Cup for Cross Country Rallies. It is a major sporting event in the Hail province in terms of entertainment and social and economic benefits.
“Since its inception in 2006, the importance of the Hail Rally has grown with its history. It was the first motorsport event in the Kingdom and was initiated by Prince Saud bin Abdul Mohsen bin Abdul Aziz, the ruler of the Hail province at the time.
“It has been present in the motor-sporting calendar ever since and gained international interest and official attention after the rise in popularity of rallying, locally, regionally and internationally,” the prince added.
“The rally was a round of the 2008 FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Rallies and has been an important event for Hail province and for the Kingdom generally.”
Local and youth interest interact in a positive way through motor sport and this has increased the level of interest in all sports and made them more attractive to private companies.
“The return to the FIA World Cup calendar will attract more international interest to Hail and bring factory teams to the rally. It will be another milestone for the Kingdom and will prove the real value of the rally and the essence of Hail province,” he said.
The event is being run under the patronage of Hail Gov. Prince Abdul Aziz bin Saad Al-Saud and Prince Faisal bin Fahd bin Muqrin Al-Saud.
The first of four desert selective sections start at 8 a.m. on Wednesday.
Follow the rally live at https://chronomoto.hu/livetiming/crosscountry/