World Rally-Raid Championship

Yazeed Al-Rajhi, Michael Orr escape massive Baja Poland fire

2 Mins read
Credit: Yazeed Racing

FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Bajas points leader Yazeer Al-Rajhi‘s Baja Poland came to an abrupt and terrifying end during the later portions of the opening stage on Saturday when his Toyota Hilux T1 caught fire. The blaze was so substantial that upon being extinguished, virtually the entire bodywork had been burned off, leaving just the frame and chassis.

Al-Rajhi and co-driver Michael Orr were able to escape the flames, though Orr fractured his ankle while jumping out and was taken to a local military hospital for treatment.

“After I finished the first stage and its distance is about 200 km, the second stage started with almost the same length,” Al-Rajhi explained on social media. “After only two kilometres from the start, the fuel pressure decreased and the car lost torque. I thought there an electrical problem so I restarted the car again, then I thought a problem had occurred in the fuel pump. I asked my co-driver to turn on the reserve pump, then I smelled fuel inside the car, then suddenly a fire outside. Michael Orr quickly jumped out of the car. I stopped, collected my things, and then Michael’s stuff from the other door, and walked away from the car. Although the car had an electronic extinguisher, the fire was as big as if the car had been sprayed with fuel.

“This car is brand new, I drove it for the first time in Italian Baja. I think the fuel hose came off and caused fuel to spray onto the body of the car, and with the high temperatured body and exhaust, it caught fire quickly and completely burned out.”

The incident occurred shortly after the 200-kilometre mark in the stage, resulting in a stoppage for all competitors. It proved to be such a disruption to the race that the third and final stage was shortened from 210.84 to 138.62 km.

Competing for Overdrive Racing, Al-Rajhi had finished the qualifying stage third overall behind Krzysztof Hołowcyzc and fellow Hilux driver Benediktas Vanagas. Hołowcyzc would win the rally after leading the final day on Sunday.

“It was difficult to win this time, but to be honest when Yazeed burnt the car our gap was too big to other competitors,” said Hołowczyz’s co-driver Lukasz Kurzeja. “It was a big fight with Yazeed, unfortunately he did not finish the rally. The new track was tricky, the navigation was not bad. There were some tricky places and I know that some people lost the road.”

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