Oman Rally Team’s Al-Rawahi resumes his JWRC programme in Sardinia

Sports Monday 27/May/2024 15:55 PM
By: Times News Service
Oman Rally Team’s Al-Rawahi resumes his JWRC programme in Sardinia

Muscat: The Oman Rally Team’s Abdullah Al-Rawahi is on the picturesque Mediterranean island of Sardinia preparing to resume his programme of events in the competitive FIA Junior World Rally Championship (JWRC).

This weekend’s (May 31st-June 2nd) Rally Italia Sardegna is the sixth round of the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) and the third in the JWRC calendar after events in Sweden and Croatia. Al-Rawahi got his first ever taste of racing on snow between banks in the forests on the season’s opener in Scandinavia but was forced to miss round two on tarmac because of a back injury.

With his usual Jordanian co-driver Ata Al-Hmoud unavailable because of other commitments this week, Al-Rawahi lines up against 17 JWRC rivals with British co-driver Ross Whittock for the first time.

Both the Omani and his stand-in co-driver were in action at last week’s Jordan Rally but both retired early: Whittock was sitting alongside Qatar’s Khalid Al-Suwaidi until they crashed in the opening stage and Al-Rawahi and Al-Hmoud were sidelined with engine damage after an accident on the third gravel stage. The defending FIA Middle East rally champions had been leading the event after the second stage.

Al-Rawahi said: “I am very excited for this rally. This is a gravel rally compared to the one in Sweden and the second one that we missed. I think we will be more comfortable on gravel terrain. There is still a lot to learn in the World Rally Championship.

“Obviously, the competition is very high and we are still looking to gain experience and learn more and even learn from my co-driver as well. Maybe we will have a different perspective from (stage) notes and stuff. Hopefully, it will be a good rally and a safe one too.”

Crews taking part in the JWRC use identical M-Sport Poland Ford Fiesta Rally3 cars running on Pirelli tyres. While Al-Rawahi is using the opening events to gain experience on different surfaces and against new competition, the prize for the winner will be an arrive and drive package to contest four European rounds of the 2025 FIA World Rally Championship in a Ford Fiesta Rally2 car.

The Omani’s rivals this weekend include the series-leading Estonian Romet Jürgenson, Australia’s Taylor Gill, Romania’s Norbert Maior and other competitors from as far afield as Bolivia, Paraguay, Chile, Perú, South Africa, Kazakhstan, Turkey and Belgium.

The on-stage action gets underway on Friday afternoon (May 31st) with two passes through a pair of gravel stages between Osilo, Tergu, Sedini and Castelsardo to the north of Alghero in northwestern Sardinia.

Saturday’s (June 1st) action features two passes through the Tempio Pausania, Tula-Erula, Monte Lerno-Monti Di Ala and Coiluna-Loelle stages, before a further two passes through the Cala Flumini and Sassari-Argentiera specials rounds off the weekend’s action on Sunday morning (June 2nd).

Competitors will tackle 266.12 competitive kilometres in a route of 1,027.90km.