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AL QASSIMI PLOTTING KUWAIT VICTORY PATH 2010 winner leads five-car challenge from Abu Dhabi Racing as Middle East title race heats up

Posted Wed 27 Feb 2013 03:51:27 pm in News, Sports | By News Desk

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Abu Dhabi, 26 February, 2013: Sheikh Khalid Al Qassimi is counting on a new power boost to aide his victory quest through unfamiliar territory in next month’s Kuwait International Rally – the second round of the FIA Middle East Rally Championship.


Returning to Kuwait for the first time since winning the event three years ago, the UAE driver leads a five-car Abu Dhabi Racing challenge in the Northern Gulf event – running March 21-23 – and is eyeing a victory to reinforce his bid for a second regional title.


Based in the country’s southern sand flats, the Kuwaiti rally route – which moved from its traditional home in the north last year – will see Al Qassimi negotiate the race’s special stages for the first time. As he prepares to enter the unknown, Al Qassimi does not believe he is handing too much of an advantage to current championship leader Nasser Al Attiyah or his other regional rivals.


Buoyed by a rebuilt Abu Dhabi Citroën Total World Rally Team DS3 RRC, Al Qassimi is ready to push Al Attiyah all the way and maintained his recent World Rally Championship outing in Sweden could provide a timely bonus.


“I spent some time in Sweden with the top Citroën engineers who had been studying video of the car from the Qatar Rally,” said Al Qassimi. “It was obvious that the car is very strong. But we felt there were a few things that could be done to the chassis to improve the balance, gain more traction and make it a little faster.”


“It will be good to have some extra speed in Kuwait, especially as I don’t know the stages there and will have little time to get to know them,” he added.


“When I won in 2010 the route was in the north and it was one of the best Middle East rallies I’ve ever driven. The organisers had done a great job in grading the tracks and making the stages very clearly defined.


“The year before, the rally ran through very flat desert areas where it was difficult to see the route and we actually got lost. The new rally route is in the south, so it will be completely new to me. I just hope there are no major surprises.”


Al Qassimi will test the rebuilt Abu Dhabi Citroën DS3 RRC two days before the Kuwait Rally gets under way as Abu Dhabi Racing, the major new force in the Middle East Championship this season, looks for another strong showing from its four young Emirati drivers.


Mohammed Al-Sahlawi heads to Kuwait leading both the 2WD and Young Driver categories which have been introduced in this year’s series, while Mohammed Al Mutawaa drives a second two-wheel drive Citroën DS3 R3.


Bader Al Jabri enters the second round of the season holding second place in the new Group N championship, while Majid Al Shamsi - like Al Jabri a product of the Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority’s Junior Driver Development Programme - pilots a second Subaru N15.


FIA Middle East Rally Championship leading positions


1. Nasser Al Attiyah (QAT)                 25pts

2. Khalid Al Qassimi (UAE)                18pts

3. Abdulaziz Al Kuwari (QAT)                        15pts

4. Khalid Al Suwaidi (QAT)               12pts

5. Adullah Al Qassimi(UAE)               10pts

6. Yazeed Al Rajhi (KSA)                   8pts     

7. Abdulla Al Kuwari (QAT)               6pts

8. Bader Al Jabri (UAE)                      4pts     

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