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DUBAI (UAE) – Saturday, March 10: Saudi Arabian driver Yasir Saeidan finished in a stunning podium position and third overall in the Dubai International Baja, round two of the 2018 FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Rallies.

Tackling his second event with the Overdrive Racing team at the wheel of their powerful V8-engined Toyota Hilux, Saiedan and Russian navigator Alexei Kuzmich soon got to grips with the car over two selective sections of 173.69km apiece through the Al-Qudra Desert in the United Arab Emirates. The Saudi finished a mere 5min 40sec behind eventual winner and new series leader Jakub Przygonski on only his second event with the team 

The Saudi coped well with the heat and rigours of the opening special and was particularly impressive through the tricky sand dunes that caught out several of his rivals. He clocked the third fastest time of 2hrs 12min 34sec in SS1 behind the Polish driver Przygonski and Russia’s Vladimir Vasilyev. He may well have taken the stage win had it not been for one costly delay in the sand. 

Saiedan began the second special, which featured a wide variety of sand dunes, fast sandy tracks and soft areas, behind his two rivals and reached the flying finish in a time of 2hrs 03min 33sec. That was a mere 1min 46sec behind Khalid Al-Qassimi, the local favourite and winner of last year’s Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge, and meant that he beat all his contenders for the Dubai Baja win.

Overdrive Racing’s CEO Jean-Marc Fortin said: “This is a fantastic first podium for Yasir. With the stage time that he showed today, it is really amazing how he has driven in the dunes. This is only the second time that he has been racing in T1 with this car. 

“Making his first podium on only his second race is a very impressive achievement. It’s just a shame that he got stuck for more than four and a half minutes yesterday, when we looked at the data, otherwise he would have been challenging for the lead…”

The FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Rallies remains in the United Arab Emirates, but moves to the neighbouring emirate of Abu Dhabi for the first of the longer events, the famous Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge, on March 23-29.

2018 Dubai International Baja – final results

1. Jakub Przygonski (POL)/Tom Colsoul (BEL) MINI John Cooper Works Rally                 4hrs 10min 27sec

2. Vladimir Vasilyev (RUS)/Konstantin Zhiltsov (RUS) MINI One                                    4hrs 14min 35sec 

3. Yasir Saeidan (SAU)/Alexei Kuzmich (RUS) Toyota Hilux Overdrive                 4hrs 16min 07sec

4. Martin Prokop (CZE)/Jan Tomanek (CZE) Ford F150 Evo                                        4hrs 46min 03sec

5. Mansour Al-Helai (ARE)/Khaled Al-Kendi (ARE) Nissan Pick-Up                                  4hrs 48min 52sec

6. Thomas Bell (ARE)/Patrick McMurren (ARE) Nissan Navara                                      4hrs 58min 10sec

FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Rallies – standings after round 2 (unofficial):

1. Jakub Przygonski (POL)                         42pts

2. Vladimir Vasilyev (RUS)                          37pts

3. Martin Prokop (CZE)                             33pts

4. Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah (QAT)               30pts                

5. Yasir Saeidan (SAU)                             26pts, etc