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Saudi Arabia’s Essa Al Dossari hits cruise control to win Jordan Baja

By JT - Sep 30,2018 - Last updated at Sep 30,2018

Jordan Baja winners Essa Al Dossari (left) and Ata Al Hmoud. Dossari was the first of all the competitors to cross the finish line in a time of 42min 05sec (Photo courtesy of Baja Media Service)

AMMAN — Saudi Arabia’s driver Essa Al Dossari and Emirati navigator Ali Hassan Obaid were the class of the field at the inaugural Jordan Baja, and cruised through the final day in the magnificent desert surroundings of Wadi Rum to secure victory by the margin of 46min 05sec, according to the Jordan Baja Media Service.  

The ED Racing Nissan Navara driver won every desert selective section comfortably after missing on the super special win to Saleh Al Saif. The winning driver said: “Everything went smooth and I am really happy. I took it so easy on the last stage. I was slower than yesterday by just four minutes. The stages are nice, but very fast and you need a lot of speed here.” 

Saudi rivals Fares Al Moshana and Motab Al Shammeri confirmed an all-Nissan and all-Saudi podium with second and third places in their Patrols. Khalid Al Hamzani was fourth and Ahmad Al Malki broke the Nissan stranglehold on the leading positions with fifth overall in an Isuzu D-Max. 

The Deaf Rally Team Saudi Arabia’s Fahad Al Abdallatif confirmed victory in the T2 category for finishing sixth overall. Hand signals were used by navigator Ziyad Al Harbi to achieve an excellent result for the determined driver. 

 Salameh Al Gammaz completed the route as the leading Jordanian driver in seventh overall in his Toyota Prado with navigator Yousef Juma.

Ata Al Hmoud coasted to an emphatic victory in the motorcycle category. The former Jordanian rally navigator had only tackled one event on two wheels in Greece before the Jordan Baja, but he won all four of the desert stages to claim victory over Hamza Zawahreh by the margin of 3hrs 51min 51sec. 

Hmoud said: “It was a tough second stage. I was fighting all the way with the sand, because it was very deep in parts. It feels brilliant to have finished though. I had issues with the pressure and lost a lot of time in the first stage, but I cannot complain overall really.”

 

Saturday — as it happened

 

Essa Al Dossari found that his outright lead had risen to 27min 39sec overnight after nearest rival Moshana was awarded a 10-minute penalty. 

Penalties abounded inside the top 10 for various route violations with Saif the main beneficiary from penalties imposed on Shammeri and Hamzani. The Can-Am T3 driver was duly promoted to third place.

Raed Al Anzi, Tawfiq Hraiz, Malek Al Hariri (clutch issues) and Yara Shalaby started the last day with 100 hours of time penalties for failing to complete the day one route, but Saudi Arabia’s Ibrahim Al Muhanna and Kuwait’s Salem Al Dhafeeri were amongst the retirements. 

Hmoud saw his motorcycle advantage rise to a massive 2hrs 21min 07sec after his penalty of 28 minutes was dwarfed by the 90 minutes handed to nearest rival Zawahreh. Saif Al Zyoud, Khaldoon Halabi and Bader Abdel Jawad have officially retired from the event. 

Action began on a 64.65km selective section that started and finished in Al Quwayrah. Hmoud led his motorcycle rival and Dossari was first on the road in the cars. The Jordanian pressed home his advantage and won the stage on two wheels in a time of 1hr 25min 01sec, despite a navigational scare near the end, and extended his outright lead to a staggering 2hrs 45min 30sec.  Zawahreh completed the stage with one tyre intact and one puncture on his Kawasaki.

Behind Dossary, the battle for the minor places on the podium in the car category was heating up and several Saudi drivers were jostling for position. Both Ahmed and Shammeri were running strongly behind the rally leader, but Palestinian driver Mahmoud Al Maabda made a major navigational error and ceded further time to his rivals. 

Dossari was the first of all the competitors to cross the finish line in a time of 42min 05sec and he managed to beat Shammeri by 2min 02sec. He also extended his lead to 35 minutes over Moshana. Jordan Motorsport now faces an anxious wait before the next FIA World Council meeting to see whether it will be the latest organisation to join the calendar for the FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Rallies.

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