RIYADH, January 15 (CIC) – The first phase of the Hail Nissan International Rally was flagged off at Mashar valley in the north-western Saudi city of Hail on Monday, with a total of 46 teams competing in the four-day race.
The first phase covers 3.78 kilometres of the total 1,300 kilometre race, organised by the Saudi Arabian Motor Federation (SAMF) and overseen by International Automobile Federation.
The rally, first held in 2006, is one of the most important events on the calendar of international sport events held in Saudi Arabia, which attracts thousands of local and international spectators. However, the event entered the international motor-sporting calendar for the first time in 2007, after running as a club event the previous year.
The contestants include 81 Saudi drivers and navigators, five Emirati co-drivers, a Russian, an Omani and an Egyptian navigator, and three Kuwaiti drivers and co-drivers.
Nissans dominate the entry list with 25 contestants driving the Japanese vehicles.
The top seeds, Faris Khalaf Al-Mashna – last year’s winner – and Saud Nasser Al-Tamimi, both of Saudi Arabia, will drive Nissan Patrols. Al-Mashna will join Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah and Yazeed Al-Rajhi as a multiple winner of the event in the car category.
Many cultural and social events are being held as part of the event. This year’s accompanying events started last week and will continue for nine days.