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Nissan drivers aim for outright victory
Published in The Saudi Gazette on 30 - 03 - 2017

HA'IL — Nissan drivers will be aiming to snatch the outright victory in the Ha'il International Rally, as the Japanese manufacturer confirms its fourth year of title support for the flagship off-road rally run by the Saudi Arabian Motor Federation (SAMF). The event takes place on April 2-5 in the north-central deserts of the Kingdom.
Despite a direct date clash with the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge, an impressive 39 crews grace the provisional entry list for the event and 18 of those are various Nissan derivatives in the T1 and T2 sections. The list includes former winner Ibrahim Al-Muhanna, Faris Khalaf Al-Mashna, Ahmed Al-Suhail, Khalid Al-Shammeri, Muteb Saud Al-Shammeri and Khalid Al-Shaman.
The Kuwaiti drivers, Salem and Meshari Al-Thafiri, team up with their respective navigators, Faris and Mubarak Saleh Al-Thefiri, in a pair of T1 Nissan Patrols, alongside Saudi drivers Khalid Eid Nahar Al-Shammeri, Ibrahim Bin Samhan and Yousef Al-Shammeri.
Nissan's challenge for honors isn't confined to the main T1 category either. The Japanese manufacturer dominates the T2 section for Series Production Cross-Country Vehicles, as it bids to defend the title it earned in 2016.
There are a provisional eight Saudi competitors in the T2 section: Fahad Abdulaziz Al-Abdullatif leads the way in a Patrol and faces fellow Nissan drivers Tariq Al-Rammah, Muneef Al-Salmani, Yayha Halawi, Nayaf Al-Otaibi, Mohammed Al-Seyan and Muteb Saud Atek Al-Shammeri.
Saudi Arabian driver Yazeed Al-Rajhi has won the event on a record five occasions and is missing the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge to tackle his home event again. Nissan have won the event on two occasions: Qatar's Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah teamed up with Matthieu Baumel to claim the title in a Navara in 2009 and local driver Ibrahim Muhanna and Ali Obaid were successful with a Nissan Patrol in 2014.
The rally will be staged under the patronage of Prince Saud Bin Abdul Mohsen Bin Abdul Aziz, Governor of Ha'il, President of the Supreme Commission for Ha'il Development and the Head of the Supreme Commission of the Ha'il Rally.
A revised format sees crews and motorcycle riders tackle a 4.17km Prologue or super special stage at Meshar, near Ha'il, Sunday. This will be a taster for the real action that lies ahead in the An-Nafud desert to the north of Ha'il over the following three days.
The first of the selective sections heads out of Umm Al-Qultan on April 3 and runs for 269.55km to a finish in Qna. The second stage starts at Baqa'a on April 4 and takes competitors on a demanding loop through varied desert terrain for 302.08km, before finishing back in Baqa'a.
A third and final selective section of 285.48km then wraps up proceedings on April 5 between a start in Al-Farhaniyah and a finish near the town of Jubbah. As in previous years, the rally headquarters and service area will be located at the Maghawat Conference Centre on the outskirts of Ha'il.

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