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Abu Dhabi makes a comeback in World Rally

Three-year deal with Citroën will see two teams participating in competition

Image Credit: Courtesy: TCA Abu Dhabi
Shaikh Khalid Al Qasimi (left) and co-driver Scott Martin will contest eight WRC rounds in2013 under the new Abu Dhabi and Citroën partnership.
Gulf News

Abu Dhabi: Brand Abu Dhabi will stage a comeback in the World Rally Championship (WRC) after a historic partnership with nine-time World Rally Championship (WRC) winning manufacturer, Citroën Racing, it was announced yesterday.

The three-year partnership between Citroën Racing and the newly-created Abu Dhabi Racing (ADR) — an Abu Dhabi-based company — will see the two full-works manufacturer teams, Citroën Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team and the Abu Dhabi Total Citroën World Rally Team, participate in the WRC as of next season’s opening round in Monte Carlo, from January 18-20. Both teams and all registered drivers in the new Citroën-Abu Dhabi stable will be eligible to score manufacturers’ points.

“In Abu Dhabi, we have a long-term partner that will preserve Citroën’s position at the summit of global rallying,” said Yves Matton, Director of Citroën Racing and Team Principal of Citroën Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team. “Over the last decade, the team has enjoyed monumental success. Vitally, we now have a formidable partner that shares our ambition to continue setting the pace in the WRC and international off-road motorsport.”

The agreement brings back Shaikh Khalid Al Qasimi, UAE’s most successful international rally driver in terms of WRC points, in the WRC next year. Al Qasimi will contest eight WRC rounds for Abu Dhabi Total Citroën World Rally Team in the all-new Abu Dhabi-branded DS3 WRC, which was unveiled yesterday at the team’s international launch at Monte Carlo Beach Club Saadiyat, Abu Dhabi.

On WRC rounds where nine-time world champion, Sebastien Loeb, is participating, the legendary Frenchman will drive for Citroën Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team alongside Finland’s Mikko Hirvonen, with Spain’s Dani Sordo joining Al Qasimi in the Abu Dhabi Total Citroën World Rally Team. When Loeb, who is contesting a shortened schedule next season, is not in action, Sordo will pilot the second manufacturers’ points-scoring car for Citroën Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team.

Additionally, the all-new Abu Dhabi Total Citroën World Rally Team will contest the 2013 Middle East Rally Championship (MERC) — the first-time in history a full WRC works team has participated in the region’s premier off-road motorsport series — with Al Qasimi scheduled to complete the series’ entire calendar.

“Rallying is in Abu Dhabi’s soul and this partnership reflects the vision of General Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, to see the emirate back at the sport’s elite level,” said Al Qasimi.