Sunday, December 05
11:50 PM

Maiden victory for Haitham Soomar

30 Oct 2021 By ASHOK PUROHIT

Opening round of the Oman National Rally concludes with only nine of 15 drivers able to finish

Muscat – The Oman National Rally, which made its return after a gap of 19 months, turned out to be a tough and competitive rally on Friday with six of the 15 drivers forced to retire early for various reasons. Amid the chaos, young Haitham Soomar and his co-driver Wail al Shibani, claimed the first round top honours in their Mitsubishi Evo 7. It was the first ever victory for Haitham in his young rallying career.

The six special stages saw the drivers battle out between Misfah and Saal areas around Muscat with Haitham clocking an overall time of 1hr:08m.59sec. Faisal al Rashidi and his navigator Waleed al Rashidi in their Subaru Impreza N 12 ended up runner-up, finishing a second behind the winners. Former champion Nizar al Shanfari made an encouraging comeback as he with his co-driver Ali Mirza of the UAE finished third on CanAm in a time of 1:11.35.

Hamed al Qasimi in a Mitsubishi Evo 8 was fourth while Mohammed al Shanfari in a Yamaha Polaris finished fifth. German Azar Pey on a CanAm was sixth. Abdullah al Zubair in a Nissan Patrol and Issam al Kharusi on Quad and Musab Soomar on Kia Rio were the other three drivers who managed to finish the rally.

Favourite Abdullah al Rawahi was among the six drivers who were forced to retire early. Rawahi and his co-driver Ata Hmoud in a Subaru Impreza met with an accident but escaped unhurt. However, the car suffered damages to rule them out.

Also quitting early was former champion Zakaria al Aufi due to a broken suspension. Later, Brigadier (retd) Salim al Maskari, Oman Automobile Association (OAA) chairman, gave away the awards. Speaking after the win, Haitham Soomar said, “I am happy to clinch my first ever win. It is special and I would like to thank my team and my wellwishers for their support.”

Runner-up Rashidi appreciated ‘the support of his sponsors – Al Madina Takaful and Oil Field Inspection Services’.

The next two rounds of the national rally will be held in December on the sidelines of the Oman International Rally, one of the rounds of FIA Middle East Rally Championship and round four is likely to be held in Duqm, also in December.

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