Al Qassimi aims for WRC boost in Australia

Al Qassimi aims for WRC boost in Australia

02.09.2013: UAE driver will feel much more at home on gravel in Abu Dhabi CitroŽn at scene of his best WRC finish

UAE driver will feel much more at home on gravel in Abu Dhabi Citroën at scene of his best WRC finish

photo caption:   Sheikh Khalid Al Qassimi – heading back to Australia, scene of his finest WRC performance  to date

The UAE’s Sheikh Khalid Al Qassimi revisits the scene of his finest World Rally Championship performance next week hoping that a return to gravel surfaces in Australia can help propel him to his best finish of the season.

After battling through his toughest WRC test so far this year in Germany, the Emirati driver will feel much more at home when he lines up in Rally Australia alongside British co-driver Scott Martin in his Abu Dhabi Citroën Total DS3.

The tenth round of this year’s WRC series, Rally Australia has switched back to the coastal town of Coffs Harbour, 540 km north of Sydney, where the event was based in 2011 when Al Qassimi fought his way to an impressive fifth place finish.

“The gravel stages in Australia are much easier for me to adapt to than the tarmac in Germany,” said Al Qassimi, who missed a third WRC top ten result of the current campaign by one place in Rallye Deutschland last time out.

“I find it difficult to adapt my style of driving to tarmac, and it was tough going in Germany, especially in the rain when a lot of cars were overshooting corners and spinning.

“I’m looking forward to Australia and, yes, I have good memories of 2011. At the same time, it’s not going to be easy. If it rains there you can end up sliding all over the place. I remember quite a lot of others cars going off last time.”

In fact, rain on the first leg in 2011 saw the two leading Citroën drivers that year, Sebastien Loeb and Sebastien Ogier, crash out of the event.

“Depending on the conditions, you have to have the right balance, and know exactly when to attack or back off,” said Al Qassimi.

photo caption:   Sheikh Khalid will find it easier to adapt to Rally Australia conditions but still expects a  tough test in his Abu Dhabi Citroën Total DS3.

After ninth and tenth place finishes in Portugal and Sardinia respectively, Al Qassimi hopes that the memory of his performance in Australia two years ago could help inspire him to another big performance at the wheel of his Abu Dhabi Citroën.

A big feature of Rally Australia, whose hub is in the centre of Coffs Harbour, is a mixed surface super special stage which runs on three successive evenings following the ceremonial start on Thursday next week.

Providing a spectacular show for thousands of spectators, it will see two cars running simultaneously on opposite sides of a former velodrome oval before breaking out onto the surrounding streets of the town and finishing back in the oval.

The WRC points at stake will, however, be largely won and lost over 22 special stages amounting to 353.98km of competitive rallying up to the finish on Sunday week (15 September).


. Tony Lewis, Total Communications Dubai - also photos


02.09.2013 / MaP

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