Classifieds powered by Gulf News

Al Qassimi targets top 10 in Sweden

Rally driver must overcome demanding conditions on Citroen debut

Gulf News

Dubai: UAE rally driver Shaikh Khalid Al Qassimi is aiming to finish in the points at this weekend’s Rally Sweden — the second stage of the ongoing 13-leg 2013 World Rally Championship season.

It will be a tough ask for the Abu Dhabi Citroen Total World Rally driver, who has accrued 33 points in 45 WRC events since 2004, as he battles flu and freezing conditions in Karlstad.

He also has to adapt to a new team and engine — the DS3 WRC — in what will be his first appearance back on the world rallying stage since October 2011. He ends his hiatus as a result of the new tie-up between Abu Dhabi Racing and eight-time WRC manufacturer winners Citroen.

This is his fourth appearance in Sweden and he recorded his best finish of 10th in 2011, after previously coming 26th and 13th in 2008 and 2010. Coming 10th and under is a points finish in rally rules.

“It’s not really a surface that comes naturally to me,” said Al Qassimi. “But I have improved here every year, so much so that I finished in the points last time I competed in 2011.

“This is my first rally with the team and the DS3 WRC, so I don’t want to set myself too high a target. But it would be a great start if I could finish in the points.”

Al Qassimi, who is partnered by British co-driver Scott Martin, said of the new car after testing: “To begin with it was very difficult to adapt, especially in the morning when the roads were very narrow and tricky. It was difficult to get the right bite from the [tyre] studs. But we did good mileage after lunch when the roads were fast and flowing, and I built my confidence.”