Al Qassimi passes tough test in Rally Australia

Al Qassimi passes tough test in Rally Australia

13.09.2013: photo caption: Sheikh Khalid Al Qassimi in full flight among the trees today at




photo caption:  Sheikh Khalid Al Qassimi in full flight among the trees today at the wheel of his Abu Dhabi Citroën Total DS3 in Rally Australia.



UAE driver faces another stern examination as Citroën Abu Dhabi  team-mates fight for victory Down Under



After passing one demanding test in Rally Australia today, the UAE’s Sheikh Khalid Al Qassimi immediately faced another tough examination in the tenth round of this year’s FIA World Rally Championship.


Partnered by British co-driver Scott Martin in his Abu Dhabi Citroën DS3, the UAE driver battled difficult road conditions to move into tenth place over today’s six special stages.


It was a particularly awkward leg for Al Qassimi, who spent much of his time effectively clearing loose stones from the gravel tracks to the benefit of those following behind him after starting second on the road.


There will be no respite, as he will be the first to set off on tomorrow’s (Saturday) leg of six more special stages, as Citroën Abu Dhabi team-mates Mikko Hirvonen and Kris Meeke continue their battle with WRC leader Sebastien Ogier.


With eight stages completed overall, Ogier held an 18.4 seconds lead from Hirvonen, with Meeke 7.5 seconds further away, another 14 stages overall lying ahead before the finish on Sunday afternoon.


It was always going to be a tough start to the rally for Al Qassimi, who set high standards for himself in Australia by finishing fifth, his best WRC result to date, two years ago.


After completing today’s first loop of three stages he said: “There were lots of blind crests and the car was sliding sideways because of the loose rocks and sand, so I lost a lot of time.”


The difficult nature of conditions as the fast gravel stages cut through the trees was highlighted when Meeke’s Citroën Abu Dhabi DS3 hit a large rock on stage five and the steering wheel jumped out of his hands.


He survived the scare, and so did Al Qassimi after hitting another rock on the next stage, going on to improve his total time on the second loop of three stages by 63 seconds.


“I wanted a little bit more, but on the one stage I hit a rock,” he said. “It’s not easy. There’s a thin layer of dust sometimes which hides the corner. There’s a lot of loose sand making me a little slower, but it’s better than going off.”


Rally Australia was continuing later with another two evening runs of the super special spectator stage in Coffs Harbour before the overnight halt.




- Tony Lewis, Total Communications Dubai - also photo

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13.09.2013 / MaP

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