HAIL — Faris Al-Mashna and Saud Al-Taimi made a superb start to their challenge for honors in the 2016 Hail Nissan International Rally, Saudi Arabia’s flagship off-road motor sport event, which began Sunday afternoon with a timed super special stage of 4.17km at Meshar.
The Saudi duo, driving a Nissan Patrol, finished the special in fourth place behind early leader and five-time winner Yazeed Al-Rajhi, who is partnered by the German navigator Timo Gottschalk in his customary Hummer.
Dubai’s former MERC driver Rashed Al-Kitbi made a first appearance at the Hail event and slotted into second place and T3 leader Yousef Al-Dheef was third.
Nissans dominated the leader board with nine cars inside the provisional top 15 at the end of the day. An impressive 33 cars began the event, despite a direct date clash with the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge.
Former Ibrahim Al-Muhanna snatched sixth place in his Nissan and Mohammed Al-Tuwaijri, Ahmed Abdullah Al-Suhail, Saleh Al-Abdulali and T2 leader Meshal Saud Al-Saeedi (Nissan) rounded off the top 10.
The rally is being held under the patronage of 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.
Monday competitors will tackle the first of three selective sections through the An-Nafud desert. The timed test begins at Umm Al-Qultan and runs for 269.55km to a finish in Q’na. A road section then returns entrants to the overnight halt in Hail. — SG