Overdrive Racing’s Yazeed Al Rajhi competes during the Dubai Baja International Rally on Saturday.
Gulf Today, Journalist
Overdrive Racing’s Yazeed Al Rajhi sealed the FIA World Cup for the Bajas Cross Country Drivers’ Championship with an outright victory at the Dubai International Baja.
The Saudi overcame day one dizziness that cost him 10 valuable minutes to win the second of the weekend’s two qualifying stages through the Al Qudra desert to secure the title and a 67-second margin of victory over his Overdrive Racing teammate Lucas Moraes.
Partnered by German co-driver Dirk von Zitzewitz, Rajhi came into the weekend with a 10-point cushion over Miroslav Zapletal and delays from his Czech rival also helped the Toyota Hilux driver’s cause.
Rajhi said: “Today we made up some time and everything was going well. We are happy to win the FIA World Cup. That was the most important goal. We have been very unlucky this season, but finally we are lucky.”
Moraes is back in action with Overdrive Racing and new German co-driver Timo Gottschalk, who he will face in the Dakar Rally in January.
The Brazilian led after the first day and finished the repeat of the special that was run in the opposite direction in second position.
Moraes said: “This was my first time here and the first time I raced in a proper desert and dunes. It was a great experience. To be honest, I never thought I would fight for the win here. The idea was come here and learn, enjoy and experience the Dakar.
“We managed to win the first stage and started to move forward. Today was a bit complicated for me. I got dizzy twice and had to stop and recover a bit for a couple of minutes. The team has been great. The objective was to finish and we did it and now we focus on the Dakar”.
Dutchman Erik van Loon re-teamed with French co-driver Sebastien Delaunay in the third Toyota Overdrive Racing.
He finished fourth overall after day one and crossed the finish line at Dubai Festival City after incurring time penalties for technical problems on the final day.
Moraes got off to a superb start and the Brazilian posted the fastest time on the 194.40km opening selective section that started from the Lisaili Camel Breeding Center on the Dubai to Al Ain Expressway and crossed the desert of the surrounding Al Qudra. Moraes beat Van Loon by 6min 53sec and a struggling Rajhi by 10.05sec to give Overdrive Racing a 1-2-3 in T1 after day one and first, fourth and fifth overall .
The 195.98km second stage went in the opposite direction to finish at Al-Lisaili and Rajhi burst through to seal the outright victory with an impressive stage win.
The Saudi beat the struggling Moraes by 11 minutes 10 seconds as the Overdrive Racing duo confirmed a 1-2 finish to close another successful FIA cross-country season.