Athens: Athens The UAE's rally ace Shaikh Khalid Al Qasimi is leading a three-pronged motorsport charge for Abu Dhabi on a weekend after a dramatic day and a half of high-speed action in the WRC Acropolis Rally of Greece.
Shaikh Khalid represents the BP Ford Abu Dhabi World Rally Team, an initiative of the Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority which sponsors the title, official destination partner of the World Rally Championship and creator of the Abu Dhabi Junior Driver Development Programme.
Shaikh Khalid remains in championship points contention, going into second afternoon stages and the final day today.
At the half-way point he was in eighth place after stage nine and appeared to be well placed to mount a leadership charge.
The Abu Dhabi star did some intelligent driving to avoid problems which beset other drivers, forcing them to lose their composure. Loose gravel roads strewn with rocks are taking a big toll on all cars and require sensible management of tyres and suspensions.
"It is really tough out there, the cars are taking a huge battering," said the Emirati ace after yesterday morning's stages.
"Concentration is everything. We cannot push the car too much on this surface, we must be sensible, take our time, and not make many mistakes. With Loeb crashing out in the morning, it is easy to see how quickly things can change.
"I felt a little better than in the first stage of the day, but it's still rough."
Shaikh Khalid is hoping to stay in touch with the leaders today, knowing that further dramatics could propel him even further up the classifications.
BP Ford Abu Dhabi driver Jari-Matti Latvala, World Champion Sebastian Loeb and Citroen's Dani Sordo all suffered major set-backs, crashing off course on stages six, seven and nine respectively to leave the field wide open as the third BP Ford Abu Dhabi World Rally team driver Mikko Hirvonen maintained his lead over star racer Petter Solberg.
"There is a long way left to go, it is a hard rally and it is easy to have a puncture," said Hirvonen.
Meanwhile, as he flies the flag for Abu Dhabi on four wheels, the emirate's name is also reaching out to motorsport fans in Canada and Finland.
Flying high in the skies above Windsor, Ontario, Team Abu Dhabi with reigning Champion Hannes Arch, is looking for more glory in the Red Bull Air Race series, while the Abu Dhabi F1 Powerboat drivers Ahmad Al Hameli and Thani Al Qamzi, will be at full throttle on Lake Lesijarvi in Lahti, Finland.
Acropolis Rally of Greece Standings after Stage 9
- 1. Hirvonen (BP Ford Abu Dhabi World Rally Team) 2hrs, 17mins, 48.6s 2. Solberg (Petter Solberg World Rally Team) +24.8s
- 2. Ogier (Citroen Junior Team) +1m, 28.8s
- 3. Ostberg (Adaptor) +2m, 44.5s
- 4. Latvala (BP Ford Abu Dhabi World Rally Team) +2m, 58.8s
- 5. Villagra (Munchies)+3m, 11.7s
- 6. Rautenbach (Citroen Junior Team) +3m, 23.2s
- 7. Novikov (Citroen Junior Team)+4m, 09.3s
- 8. Al Qassimi (BP Ford Abu Dhabi World Ra lly Team) +4m, 17.5s
- 9. Sordo (Citroen) +5m, 03s