Sardegna, Italy: Citroën Total Abu Dhabi WRT driver Shaikh Khalid Bin Faisal Al Qasimi has completed testing the all-new Citroën C3 WRC in preparation for his return to the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) with Round 6, the Vodafone Rally de Portugal from May 18-21.
Shaikh Khalid, who will get behind a World Rally Car after a break of about six months, will be behind the wheel of the C3 WRC with Chris Patterson by his side reading the pace notes.
After a test day in Sardegna, Italy, Shaikh Khalid said he still needed to put in more miles, to get used to the car, even though he clocked nearly 190 kilometres during the testing sessions.
“We made three important observations: First, we had to understand the car and its new features. The C3 WRC is a totally new car for me so I had to learn each switch and key in the car before we got down to the actual test session,” said Shaikh Khalid.
“Second, we had to understand the character of the car and how it handles, specifically with regard to the speed and set-up in general. Third, during the test, we had to make plenty of changes in order to suit my driving style and I hope those changes work well for us during the rally. I really need to put in a lot of mileage to get used to the new car. It is a learning curve for me.”
Shaikh Khalid went on to reveal that he covered 186km of testing but that was not enough to get the required confidence.
“The real test will be during the rally and then we will be able to get more information which will permit us to build confidence gradually behind the wheel on the car,” he added.
The rally will run over a total distance of 1,529km of which 349.17km comprises competitive stages, while the remainder will be liaison sections.
Following the Spectator Stage on Thursday (3.36km), drivers will then tackle eight special stages over about 148km on Friday and a further six special stages on Saturday covering a little over 154km.
Sunday, the final day, comprises four special stages over a distance of nearly 43km.