Abu Dhabi Racing. FIA Middle East Rally Championship. Cracking Start

The UAE’s Sheikh Khalid Al Qassimi produced a superb performance to snatch the lead in the Qatar International Rally today as Abu Dhabi Racing made a brilliant start to the 2013 FIA Middle East Rally Championship on their competitive debut in the regional series.

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Guest Author – Mike Cunningham

After half of the six special stages making up the first leg, Al Qassimi had powered his Abu Dhabi Citroën Total WRC Team DS3 RRC into a 4.3 seconds lead from Qatari favourite and  seven-time Middle East champion, Nasser Al Attiyah.

It was a brilliant display from 2004 Middle East champion Al Qassimi who is the inspiration for the four other Emirati drivers in the five-car Abu Dhabi Racing line-up, and the team could not have hoped for a better opening day.

As Al Qassimi, partnered by British co-driver Scott Martin, forced his way ahead of Al Attiyah and last year’s Qatar Rally winner, Abdulaziz Al Kuwari, Majid Al Shamsi completed the first three stages in an impressive sixth place  overall and topped the new Group N category in his Subaru Impreza.

Team-mate Bader Al Jabri followed him in second place in Group N and eighth overall, while Mohammed Al Mutawaa in a Citroën DS3 R3 lead the new two-wheel drive category and also held a top ten overall position on his rallying debut.

The only disappointment for Abu Dhabi Racing was that its other rally newcomer, Mohammed Al-Sahlawi, was unluckily forced to retire from the first leg after a series of punctures. He will take the super rally option to re-start the rally on the second leg tomorrow morning and gain invaluable competitive experience.

An early lead for Al Qassimi over Al Attiyah in Qatar was particularly impressive as the UAE driver is just returning to full competitive action with Abu Dhabi Racing this season after being out of action for most of 2012.

Equally satisfying for the new team was the display of Al Shamsi and Al Jabri, both former recruits from Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority Junior Driver Development Programme.

Al Mutawaa and Al-Sahlawi are making their rallying debuts after winning a Citroën young driver selection process involving 13 drivers at Abu Dhabi’s Yas Marina Circuit in December.

Qatar International Rally provisional leading positions after SS3

1. Khalid Al Qassimi (UAE)/Scott Martin (GB) Citroën DS3 RRC                   36:14.7
2. Nasser Al Attiyah (QAT)/Giovanni Bernacchini (ITA) Ford Fiesta RRC     36.19.0
3. Abdulaziz Al Kuwari (QAT)/Killian Duffy (IRL) Ford Fiesta RRC             38:11.1
4. Khalid Al Suwaidi (QAT)/Nicola Arena (ITA) Ford Fiesta RRC                  39:11.6
5. Alaa Rasheed (JOR)/Joseph Matar (LEB) Ford Fiesta RRC                         40:17.9
6. Majid Al Shamsi (UAE)/John Higgins (IRL) Subaru Impreza N15               43:17.0
7. Adullah Al Qassimi(UAE)/Steve Lancaster (GB) Ford Fiesta RRC              43:58.7
8. Bader Al Jabri (UAE /Nicholas Clinger (FRA) Subaru Impreza N15            44:20.1
9. Mohammed Al Mutawaa (UAE)/Stephen McAuley (GB) Citroën DS3 R3   45:21.3
10. Hani Al Bast (JOR) / Ata Al Hamoud  (JOR) Mitsubishi Evo V111           45:27.2

Categories: Fast Fleet


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