Qatar International Baja boosted by global strength of FIA T3 and T4 categories

Qatar International Baja boosted by global strength of FIA T3 and T4 categories

14.03.2023: 2023 Qatar International Baja - March 15th-18th, 2023 FIA World and Middle East Cups for Cross-Country Bajas, round 2 FIM Bajas World Cup, round 2 ē Saudiís Al-Saif and Seaidan top FIA World and Middle East T3 rankings


2023 Qatar International Baja - March 15th-18th, 2023   
FIA World and Middle East Cups for Cross-Country Bajas, round 2
FIM Bajas World Cup, round 2
 
   




•    Saudi’s Al-Saif and Seaidan top FIA World and Middle East T3 rankings


•    Young Spaniard Pau Navarro and Kuwait’s Al-Dhafeeri ahead in T4


•    Lusail Boulevard to host ceremonial start on Thursday evening





The record entry for this weekend’s Qatar International Baja has been boosted by the global strength and popularity of the FIA T3 category for lightweight prototype machines and the secondary FIA T4 section for modified production side-by-side vehicles.



The Qatar Motor and Motorcycle Federation (QMMF) announced on Monday that 21 vehicles had been entered in T3 with a further 13 in T4, although Saudi Arabia’s Saleh Al-Saif has since confirmed that he will not be able to attend the event and defend his early lead in the T3 category of the FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Bajas.



The FIA T3 class is booming, largely due to the success of the South Racing and FN Speed Can-Am Maverick X3s, the new X-raid Yamaha YXZ 1000 R prototype, the XtremePlus Polaris RZR, the PH-Sport Zephyr and the G Rally Team’s OT3.  



In Al-Saif’s absence, the defending champion Fernando Alvarez has the perfect opportunity to move ahead in the rankings. The Spaniard finished second at the opening event in Saudi Arabia and only trails Al-Saif by eight points heading into what is sure to be a challenging weekend coping with the heat, possible winds and the tricky navigation that makes Qatar’s Baja such a challenge.



Dania Akeel finished as runner-up to Alvarez last season and will be looking to recover quickly from a disappointing Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge in her Can-Am. The Saudi holds third in the rankings, three points clear of the Dutch businessman Kees Koolen in his G Rally Team OT3.



Other regular championship contenders present include Spain’s Santiago Navarro, Brazilian Otavio Sousa, Argentina’s Hector Diego Martinez and Kuwait’s Meshari Al-Thefiri.



Yasir Seaidan leads the FIA Middle East’s T3 category but is not present at the Qatar Baja. His absence paves the way for fellow countrymen Hamad Al-Harbi and Abdullah Al-Shegawi to battle it out for valuable points against a fierce local line-up.



The QMMF has entered seven Can-Ams for a selection of Qatar’s leading drivers and former FIA World T2 Champion Adel Abdulla, Rashid Al-Muhannadi, Mohammed Al-Meer and Nouef Hassan Al-Suwaidi are registered to score points in the FIA Middle East Cup, along with Lebanon’s Henry Kahy, a former FIA MERC3 champion.



The remaining three QMMF drivers, Abdulaziz Al-Kuwari, Nasser Al-Kuwari and Ahmed Al-Muhannadi, are registered for the FIA World Cup, alongside Frenchman Lionel Baud in a second OT3, Frenchman Jean-Luc Ceccaldi in a PH-Sport Zephyr and Portuguese privateer Mario Franco (Yamaha YXZ 1000 R).



Spaniard Pau Navarro holds a six-point advantage over Frenchman Jeremie Warnia in the FIA World Cup’s T3 standings. But the young FN Speed Team Can-Am driver faces a strong field in Qatar that includes Warnia and his other title rivals - Brazilian Cristiano de Sousa, Uruguay’s Luis Henderson, Italy’s Pietro Cinotto and Spain’s Ricardo Ramilo.



Kuwait’s Salem Al-Dhafeeri arrives in Lusail with a five-point advantage over Saudi female driver Maha Al-Hameli in the FIA Middle East Cup’s T4 championship.



Adding strength to the T4 category are a quartet of local drivers registered for the FIA Middle East Cup, with former biker and quad rider Ahmed Al-Kuwari leading the way in his Yamaha. He is joined by Khalid Al-Mohannadi (Polaris), Abdullah Al-Khelaifi (Yamaha) and Mohammed Al-Attiyah (Can-Am). Italy’s Stefano Marrini has also entered in a Can-Am.



The competitive action gets underway with a Prologue stage on Thursday from 14.15hrs onwards. This precedes the ceremonial start at a new location on Lusail Boulevard, starting with the motorcycles and quads from 19.30hrs.




Wednesday




Tomorrow, administration checks and scrutineering will take place at Lusail before several of the leading riders and drivers attend the official pre-event press conference from 18.00hrs at the Lusail Sports Complex.






FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Bajas



T3 positions after round 1:


1. Saleh Al-Saif (SAU)            38pts
2. Fernando Alvarez (ESP)            30pts   
3. Dania Akeel (SAU)            25pts
4. Kees Koolen (NLD)            22pts
5. Santiago Navarro (ESP)            18pts
6. Otavio Sousa (BRA)            17pts
7. Hector Diego Martinez (ARG)        11pts
8. Meshari Al-Thefiri (KWT)            9pts



T4 positions after round 1:

1. Pau Navarro (ESP)            38pts           
2. Jeremie Warnia (FRA)            32pts
3. Michele Cinotto (ITA)            24pts
4. Ricardo Ramilo (ESP)            22pts           
5. Cristiano de Sousa Batista (BRA)        18pts       
6. Luis Henderson (URY)            16pts           



FIA Middle East Cup for Cross-Country Bajas

T3 positions after round 1:
1. Yasir Seaidan (SAU)            40pts   
2. Hamad Al-Harbi (SAU)            33pts
3. Abdullah Al-Shegawi (SAU)            26pts



T4 positions after round 1:


1. Salem Al-Dhafeeri (KWT)            38pts
2. Maha Al-Hameli (SAU)            33pts
3. Saeed Al-Mouri (SAU)            28pts   




Neil Perkins, photos QMMF

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14.03.2023 / MaP

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