Hamed Al-Wahaibi : Oman’s Champion Rally Driver
By staff - Tue Mar 20, 5:25 pm
Hamed Al-Wahaibi clinched an emphatic victory in the relocated Rally Sohar, round two of the 2012 Oman national rally championship, which ran over six timed special stages in the Al-Samir and Taba village areas on Friday.
Partnered by co-driver Zakarya Al-Aufi, Al-Wahaibi pedalled his Wahaibi Motor Sport (WMS)-run and Safety First-backed Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X to a 2min 40sec success.
Last year’s national champion Khaled Soomar finished second overall and Al-Wahaibi’s 22-year-old protégé Arif Al-Kiyumi was third. Oman’s Khaled Minji settled for fourth position.
“Obviously it is nice to win,” admitted Al-Wahaibi. “But that is not the objective of this programme. “My return to the championship is not for winning and collecting trophies. I am here to raise the bar and to encourage other drivers to take part in rallying.”
Al-Wahaibi was again impressed by the performance of young Kiyumi, who had the experienced Allan Harryman reading his pace notes for the second time. The Omani’s Ulster co-driver had traversed sections of these special stages back in 2004 and has become a valuable addition to Al-Wahaibi’s new WMS team.
The former regional Group N champion took the lead over the first stages from Soomar and Kiyumi and began to extend his advantage as the day progressed. He maintained the lead from the start to the finish, with Soomar safe in second and Kiyumi holding third.
The WMS-backed Hamoud Al-Touqi was forced to miss the action because of health reasons but early retirements included Faisal Rashedi, Saif Al-Hares and Qasem Al-Zadjali.
Crews tackled six of the original seven special stages in intense heat. The original 120km of timed competitive action in a total route of 175km included two timed runs through the 12.4km Al-Samir stage and a 21km test taken from Rally Muscat 2011, but run in reverse with some extra loop sections. Three stages were eventually repeated twice.
Awards were presented at the headquarters of the Omani Motor Club in the presence of His Excellency Suleiman Bin Hmoud Al-Bousaidi, vice-president of the Ministry Council.