International cross-country rallying is returning to Saudi Arabia with the final two rounds of the 2020 FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Bajas in Hail and a further round in the 2021 series, it was announced on Wednesday.
In a motorsport season heavily affected by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, with numerous events around the world canceled or rescheduled, Saudi Arabia will now host Baja Hail with a new format that includes back-to-back Baja events.
The Saudi races will be scheduled as the fifth and sixth rounds of the 2020 series on Dec. 10-12 and Dec. 14-16.
The close proximity of both events to the second running of the Dakar Rally in the Kingdom in January will enable teams to round off a shortened season of Baja-type events, but also provide opportunities to carry out pre-Dakar testing and development in a familiar racing environment.
Saudi Arabian Motoring Federation President Prince Khalid bin Sultan Al-Abdullah Al-Faisal has also confirmed that the Kingdom will host the Sharqiya Baja on March 4-6, 2021, a new event for the FIA that slots into its international calendar.
The first Sharqiya 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, Prince Khalid said.
“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,” he added.
“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 in February before continuing in Poland in September.
It will head to Portugal and Dubai in November before concluding in Saudi Arabia in December.
Hail Bajas will run under the supervision of the Hail Regional Development Authority in cooperation with the General Authority for Tourism and National Heritage and the General Authority for Sport.
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