Al-Rajhi was almost 10 minutes clear of the chasing SWRC pack on Vodafone Rally de Portugal when he retired on the final morning following a mechanical failure on the Ford Fiesta RRC he shares with co-driver Michael Orr.
Although the SWRC doesn’t resume until Brother Rally New Zealand at the end of June, Saudi ace Al-Rajhi is already targeting another strong performance, this time on the Acropolis Rally in Greece, which he is planning to contest as an addition to his SWRC campaign.
“Hopefully we can show the same pace in Greece as in Portugal,” said Al-Rajhi. “We don’t have anything to lose in Greece so we can push to see where our pace is. Then in New Zealand we can take it more cautiously and make sure we get some points on the board.”
Of his retirement in Portugal, Al-Rajhi believes the mechanical failure was the legacy of an incident earlier in the four-day rally.
“In the second stage [on Sunday] the cross-member broke going into a slow left-hand corner,” said Al-Rajhi. “It was very bumpy, but I think the cross-member may have been cracked before - maybe when I hit the water splash on two day because we didn’t hit anything. I tried to drive another five kilometers or so, but then the wheel came off completely and our event was over.”