This year’s Qatar International Baja will be a counting round of both the FIM Bajas World Cup and a new FIA Middle East Cup for Cross-Country Bajas for the first time. The Qatar Motor and Motorcycle Federation (QMMF) has announced the three-day event will take place on March 24-26.
The two Bajas will run in parallel but the respective routes and programmes will not be the same. The Baja has been devised in such a way as to reduce the clash between the FIA and FIM categories as much as possible.
The Qatar International Baja will again be based at the Lusail Sports Arena, which will also host the customary service park, administration checks, scrutineering and the finish of the rally.
Rally officials have confirmed that the Qualifying Stage that determines starting orders for the first of the desert selective sections will also be held close to Lusail Sports Arena.
Four desert stages have been planned for FIM entrants and three for FIA teams: the opener is for the FIM event only and heads through the deserts of central Qatar, the second and third cross terrain through the centre and north of the country and the final timed selective passes through central and southern regions.
On Thursday, March 24th, the FIM contingent will tackle the 10km Qualifying Stage in the morning and then a first stage of 125km. FIA entrants will only tackle the qualifying stage in the afternoon. FIM entrants will compete over stages B and C (125km apiece) on Friday, March 25th, while FIA teams will tackle C before B.
On the final day (Saturday, March 26th), FIM riders and drivers compete over a short 125km stage D and FIA teams end their desert action with a stage D that runs for 200km and begins 75km before the start of the FIM special. The FIA announced in December that the new 2022 FIA Middle East Cup for Cross-Country Bajas will consist of four rounds in Jordan (February 17th-19th), Qatar, Saudi Arabia (November 10th-12th) and Dubai (December 1st-3rd). The Regional Cup will offer awards for drivers, co-drivers, teams, T3 and T4 drivers and T4 teams with the best three scores to count from the four rounds. No FIA registration is required to score points.
This year’s FIM Bajas World Cup will be fought out over nine scoring events with a coefficient of one and the finale in Dubai in December with a scoring coefficient of two. The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan hosts round one next month, before further scoring rounds take place in Qatar, Portugal, Spain, Hungary, two in Chile, a second event in Portugal and Saudi Arabia.
The final in Dubai is open to all competitors, but in order to have a chance of being ranked in the FIM Bajas World Cup classification, competitors must have finished one of the previous nine events and scored points on it. The final classification will be determined on the basis of the best two results in the series, in addition to the points awarded in Dubai. This is valid across the motorcycle, quad and SSV categories and in the Junior Women’s and Veteran classes.
Motorcycles up to 450cc (single or twin cylinder, 2T or 4T) will be eligible in the FIM Bajas World Cup, in addition to quads and SSVs. Riders of motorcycles over 450cc will be able to compete but, as per the 2022 regulations, will not score points for the Cup.
Last year’s Qatar event was open to FIM and National status competitors only and ran in October as the fifth round of the FIM Bajas World Cup.
Abu Dhabi’s Mohamed al-Balooshi, Saudi Arabia’s Haitham al-Tuwaijri and Qatar’s Ahmed al-Kuwari won their respective motorcycle, quad and SSV categories.
The revised 2022 Baja will again be held under the chairmanship of QMMF President Abdulrahman al-Mannai, QMMF’s Executive Director Amro al-Hamad and board member Abdulrazaq al-Kuwari.
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