RIYADH (SAUDI ARABIA): Saudi Arabia will mark its return to the FIA international cross-country rallying calendar in spectacular fashion with the recent news that the Saudi Automobile and Motorcycle Federation (SAMF) will host the final two rounds of the 2020 FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Bajas and a further round of the 2021 series.
In a season decimated by the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, and with numerous events cancelled or rescheduled, Saudi Arabia will now be hosting Hail Baja in a new format and with an itinerary that features back-to-back Baja events. They wiill be based in the north-central city of Hail and are scheduled as the fifth and sixth rounds of the 2020 series on December 10-12 and December 14-`16.
The close proximity of both events to January’s second running of Dakar Saudi Arabia will not only enable teams to round off a shortened season of Baja-type events, but also provide perfect opportunities to carry out pre-Dakar shakedown testing and development in a racing environment ahead of Dakar 2021..
SAMF President H.R.H. Prince Khalid bin Sultan Al-Abdullah Al-Faisal has also confirmed that the Kingdom will host the Sharqia Baja – a new event that slots into the international FIA Baja calendar on March 4-6, 2021.
The inaugural Sharqia Baja ran as the fifth round of the Saudi Desert Rally Championship last autumn and will be fine-tuned and modified to the exacting standards of the FIA.
“Saudi Arabia will host the Dakar Rally for the second time at the start of 2021, but we are delighted to be able to announce that we will host three forthcoming events that will form crucial rounds of the FIA Baja Championship,” said H.R.H. Prince Khalid bin Sultan Al-Abdullah Al-Faisal:
“We are blessed with amazing terrain for cross-country rallying in the Kingdom and it is a privilege for Saudi Arabia to be now included in the official FIA calendars. This is a major step forward for Saudi motorsport and runs hand-in-hand with the great vision and foresight of our wise leadership and the Ministry of Sport, to develop sporting events and tourism across the realm.”
December’s back-to-back Hail events will round off a modified 2020 Baja series that started in Russia back in February and then continued to Poland in September and will conclude in Portugal and Dubai in November and Saudi Arabia in December.
Hail Bajas will run under the supervision of the Hail Regional Development Authority in co-operation with the General Authority for Tourism and National Heritage and the General Authority for Sport.