MUSCAT: Khalid Al Minji and Saif Al Aisri won the fourth and final round of the 2013 Oman Rally Championship to emerge overall champions here yesterday.
According to a press release issued by the Oman Automobile Association (OAA) yesterday, the final round of the championship was flagged off at Al Amerat before the competitors went through a new picturesque and technically challenging set of stages designed by the OAA leading to an exciting day of rallying.
There was some drama at the beginning of the final round, which saw the participation of 10 competitors including three Oman Youth Rally Cup (OYRC) teams, as the last year's runners-up Khalid Soomar and co-driver Amur Al Zadjali, top seeds of this season, withdrew due to a technical malfunction in their car.
A delighted Khalid said: "The Oman Rally Championship challenges are extremely tough, where competitors are of elite driving standards, with the challenge reaching a peak level most of the time. We have also encountered several technical malfunctions in previous rounds. I have managed with my co-driver to win this title."
"We have seen a few new faces in this local rally, with unique performances. Therefore, we expect to see them compete in the following challenges in the future with even better performances, which will be an addition to the Oman Rally Championship," he said while thanking the sponsors Majees, Petron, Family Home Trading and Pocari Sweat.
Experienced Middle East rally driver Sheikh Abdullah Al Qassimi and co-driver Khalid Al Kendi, who replaced the regular co-driver Steve Lancaster in this round, timed 52 minutes and 22 seconds to win the fourth and final rally round in their Mitsubishi Evolution 9. The team secured 50 points to win the overall second position.
Speaking about their success, Al Qassimi stated: "We are very happy with the organisers, the rally stages and good competition. We are definitely looking forward to coming back next year."
The surprise of the year though has been the OYRC White Team of Zakariya Al Aufi and Issa Al Wardi driving their front wheel-drive rally car.
The team secured 45 points to emerge in third overall. In the final round, they clocked 58 minutes and 36 seconds to win third position.
Coming in close behind in a time of 59 minutes and 14 seconds was Hamid Al Qasimi and Jaifar Al Qasimi who won the fourth place of the round.
Meanwhile, OYRC Team Red's Hamed Al Subhi and co-driver Mohammed Al Mazroui completed the rally round in one hour, three minutes and 29 seconds. They were followed by OYRC Team Green's Haitham Al Zadjali and co-driver Ammar Al Balushi in one hour, eight minutes and 43 seconds.
Brigadier (retd) Salim Al Maskari, Chairman of the Board of Directors at the OAA, stated: "We have developed the Oman Rally Championship such as to encourage and support competitors, especially the Omani teams, to achieve their best within the framework of a good quality national level competition."