Overdrive Racing’s Yazeed Al-Rajhi won both desert stages and cruised to a comfortable victory in the Dubai International Baja, round two of the 2021 FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Bajas.
Partnered by Ulsterman Michael Orr - his long-term co-driver in traditional special stage rallies - the Saudi Arabian driver monopolised the event to seal a winning margin of 33min 49sec over Abu Dhabi Racing’s runner-up Sheikh Khalid Al-Qassimi. Fellow Saudi Yasir Seaidan rounded off the podium places, albeit 37min 54sec behind Al-Rajhi.
Al-Rajhi’s Toyota Hilux won the challenging opening stage through the UAE’s Al Qudra desert by 20min 35sec and the second timed test by 12min 14sec to seal a first victory at the event that replaced the Dubai International Rally in 2016.
“This was the first time I do this race here. A new experience. We had a good feeling about the dunes. Our goal, like a lot of people, was to win. We did well on the opening stage. Michael did a good job. It’s good to have him back. We had a minor issue at about 30km and later a puncture on the first stage,” said a delighted Al-Rajhi.
Al-Rajhi stormed to the fastest time in the opening selective section of 192.23 kilometres that carved a sandy trail through the Al-Qudra desert and a time of 2hr 40min 57sec enabled the Saudi to beat Abu Dhabi’s Sheikh Khalid Al-Qassimi by 20min 35sec.
When his rival incurred a one-minute time penalty and slipped to third place at the night halt, Al-Rajhi’s overall advantage rose to 21min 31sec over second-placed Yasir Seaidan.
The second selective also ran over a challenging route through the local desert for 194.75km. Al-Rajhi only had to conserve his position over the second day without taking any risks and he reached the stage finish in a time of 2hr 41min 16sec to seal a first ever win at the Dubai International Baja. It also set him up nicely for an assault at this year’s FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Bajas title.
2021 Dubai International Baja – final result
1. Yazeed Al-Rajhi (SAU)/Michael Orr (GBR) Toyota Hilux Overdrive 5hr 22min 13sec
2. Khalid Al-Qassimi (ARE)/Dirk von Zitzewitz (DEU) Peugeot 3008 DKR 5hr 56min 02sec
3. Yasir Seaidan (SAU)/Alexey Kuzmich (RAF) Mini JCW Rally 6hr 00min 07sec
4. Pierre Lachaume (FRA)/Loic Minaudier (FRA) PH-Sport Zephyr (T3) 6hr 18min 53sec
5. Pavel Lebedev (RAF)/Kirill Shubin (RAF) Can-Am Maverick X3 (T4) 6hr 48min 46sec
6. Meshari Al-Thefiri (KWT)/Ali Hassan Obaid (ARE) Can-Am Maverick X3 (T4) 7hr 18min 16sec
7. Claude Fournier (FRA)/Szymon Gospodarczyk (POL) Can-Am Maverick X3 (T4) 7hr 32min 51sec
8. Michel Fadel (ARE)/Craig Tyson (ARE) Polaris RXR Turbo (T3) 8hr 11min 56sec
9. Laia Sanz (ESP)/Lucas Cruz (ESP) Can-Am Maverick X3 (T4) 9hr 12min 34sec
10. Thomas Bell (ARE)/Patrick McMurren (ARE) Nissan Navara 9hr 43min 07sec
Source: Overdrive Racing press release