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Al Qasimi turns focus towards Kuwait

Team Abu Dhabi driver targets Middle East success after disappointment in Sweden

Gulf News

Abu Dhabi: The UAE’s Shaikh Khalid Al Qasimi is targeting victory on his return to Middle East action in Kuwait next month after suffering a disappointing exit from Rally Sweden in his first World Championship outing for 16 months at the weekend.

Al Qasimi and British co-driver Scott Martin in their Abu Dhabi Citroen Total World Rally Team DS3 WRC were denied a reward for their climb through the field in Sweden by a third leg setback that put them out of the event on Saturday night.

But, just a few hours later, the Emirati driver was planning ahead for the Kuwait International Rally — the second round of the 2013 FIA Middle East Rally Championship on March 21-23, when he will be looking to go one better after his second-place finish in Qatar last month.

“We will be looking for a win in Kuwait,” said Al Qasimi, who was looking forward to the sunshine in the UAE after the sub-zero temperatures of the last week.

“I have already sat down with the team to put together a strategy for Kuwait, where we will be doing as much testing as possible to make sure we are as well prepared as we can be.”

After a second-day slide into a snow bank sent him plummeting down the field in Rally Sweden, Al Qasimi fought back and, halfway through Saturday’s third leg, he had risen 20 places to 19th.

But Al Qasimi, who scored a top-10 finish in Rally Sweden on his last visit two years ago, went off the road on a treacherous corner on special stage 15 and was unable to start the final leg because of an overheated engine.

“It’s a real shame because I had found decent pace,” he said. “The stages were quicker than Friday and I felt good. I knew that if I’d continued I might have been able to finish higher, maybe in the top 12, and I’ve been happy with that after the bad start I had on Friday.

“But these things happen. The last time I was in a World Rally Car in a WRC event was October 2011 and now I have a new team and a new car, and the conditions in Sweden are never easy for me. But I’m looking forward to the rest of the season.”