Dubai: Shaikh Khalid Al Qasimi hopes the combination of a new car and new co-driver can help him end a run of disappointments in the Dubai International Rally and give the host country its first win in the event for six years over the UAE National Day weekend.
Since capturing the title for the second consecutive time in 2006, Shaikh Khalid has suffered a number of frustrations in the traditional final round of the FIA Middle East Rally Championship and is determined to make up for those setbacks.
Two years ago he powered his way into an impressive lead on the first leg, only to go out with a blown engine, and, after missing last year’s event through injury, he is giving himself every chance of success this time. He will be at the wheel of a new Ford Fiesta 1.6 Turbo carrying the livery of the recently-established Abu Dhabi Racing, and will be partnered for the first time by experienced British co-driver Scott Martin.
They were team-mates when Shaikh Khalid competed in the World Rally Championship (WRC) from 2007-2011 with the BP Ford Abu Dhabi World Rally Team.
“I would love to win my home rally again, and win it for the UAE on National Day weekend,” said Shaikh Khalid. “I’ve got lots of good memories of this event, especially from 2005 and 2006, but I’ve also got some bad ones as well as I haven’t always had the best of luck and there have been one or two disasters.
“I’ve always gone flat out to win, and either I have won, or gone out, the last time two years ago with a blown engine. It’s a very fast rally, and a lot of it is flat out, but there are also some very technical sections and you have to use a bit of caution in places.”
Organised by the Automobile and Touring Club of the UAE (ATCUAE), the rally will have its ceremonial start on Emaar Boulevard, in Old Town Dubai, at 7.30pm on Thursday, November 29. It will then begin in earnest the following day with six special stages, before the final sex stages in leg two on the Saturday.