Sheikh Khalid hopes for dry outlook in Portugal

Emirati driver sets sights on top ten WRC finish with Abu Dhabi Citroën Total World Rally Team.

Sheikh Khalid hopes for dry outlook in Portugal

Abu Dhabi, UAE - Sheikh Khalid Al Qassimi will be paying close attention to the West Europe weather forecast over the next week in the hope that recent rain clouds roll back to reveal a bright outlook for Rally de Portugal - the next leg of his 2013 World Rally Championship campaign.

The Emirati driver found conditions much to his liking during a full day of testing last week in his Abu Dhabi Citroën Total World Rally Team DS3 WRC, and he is counting on more of the same when the fourth round of this year’s WRC calendar gets under way on 10 April.

Khalid Al Qassimi, Citroën Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team
Khalid Al Qassimi, Citroën Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team

Photo by: Citroën Communication

“When I arrived at Portugal it was raining but we had a clear, dry day for testing and everything went well,” said Al Qassimi, who was accompanied by regular British co-driver Scott Martin.

“Since then it has been raining again and, looking at the forecast, it might rain for the next ten days, which could be a problem. If it rains during the rally, we’ll get no benefit from the testing we’ve done.”

Al Qassimi is no stranger to the notoriously abrasive gravel stages of Rally de Portugal, which has a reputation for shredding tyres faster than most WRC events.

He has made three previous appearances, scoring top ten finishes in 2009 (8th) and 2010 (9th), and finishing 14th on his last visit two years ago.

“For sure I want to target another top ten finish,” said Al Qassimi, back on the world stage for a nine-event programme this season as a result of the new partnership between Abu Dhabi Racing and eight-time WRC manufacturer winners, Citroën Racing.

“It won’t be easy. I’m still getting to know the car, it’s my first WRC gravel event since 2011 and I was out of rallying for quite a time after that. You have to be realistic but getting into the top ten is what’s in my mind.”

In Portugal next week, while Al Qassimi is nominated to score points for the Abu Dhabi Citroën Total World Rally Team, Mikko Hirvonen and Jarmo Lehtinen combine with Dani Sordo and Carlos del Barrio for the Citroën Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team and will be looking to extend their lead in the WRC manufacturers’ championship.

After the rugged desert trails of Qatar, the snow and ice of Sweden and the soft sand stages of Kuwait last week, Al Qassimi is having to make regular adjustments as he switches between the WRC and FIA Middle East Rally Championship.

“It’s always a challenge to adapt from one kind of terrain to another, especially when you go from fast open desert stages like in Kuwait to the narrow roads and very technical stages of Portugal,” he said. “It’s important to hold your concentration and keep your rhythm.”

The Rally de Portugal retains much of its 2012 format, with three days of competitive action taking place in the Algarve and Baixo Alentejo regions. With the recce being held on 9 and 10 April, the Qualifying Stage the following day returns to Vale do Judeu.

Later that day, and for the first time since the event returned to the WRC, the rally features a ceremonial start at Vilamoura Marina, Europe’s largest luxury tourist complex.

Abu Dhabi Citroën Total World Rally Team

shares
comments
Atkinson secures sixth in Mexican round

Previous article

Atkinson secures sixth in Mexican round

Next article

VW's Ogier forced to withdraw from Rally Portugal warmup event

VW's Ogier forced to withdraw from Rally Portugal warmup event
Load comments
Does Neuville have a point with his WRC Rally1 rant? Prime

Does Neuville have a point with his WRC Rally1 rant?

OPINION: Thierry Neuville's diatribe against the upcoming Rally1-spec machines that will usher in the World Rally Championship's new hybrid era was remarkable in an era where drivers are usually reticent to air their views in public. But are the Belgian's concerns about speed, safety and cost entirely valid?

WRC
Sep 16, 2021
How Rovanpera reached new heights in the Greek mountains Prime

How Rovanpera reached new heights in the Greek mountains

After Kalle Rovanpera’s historic feat at Rally Estonia, the Finn scaled new heights at the Rally of the Gods with a commanding victory. And this time Toyota’s young star demonstrated why the future is bright with his devastating speed and consistency at the Acropolis Rally

WRC
Sep 13, 2021
The WRC drivers that came of age at the Acropolis Rally Prime

The WRC drivers that came of age at the Acropolis Rally

Five drivers have won first time out at the Rally Acropolis, transcending the tough dirt and gravel Greek roads to cement a place in rallying folklore. Here are three of the first-time winners' tales

WRC
Sep 9, 2021
Understanding Suninen’s sudden WRC exit gamble Prime

Understanding Suninen’s sudden WRC exit gamble

From being considered a likely contender to drive the next-generation M-Sport Ford Puma in 2022, Teemu Suninen's abrupt exit has created plenty of questions. The Finn's bid to become his country's next World Rally Championship winner won't be furthered by being sidelined, but there may be reason behind the decision

WRC
Sep 2, 2021
Could Spa’s cameo offer the WRC a new avenue to exploit? Prime

Could Spa’s cameo offer the WRC a new avenue to exploit?

OPINION: The Ypres Rally featured a cameo from the Spa-Francorchamps circuit in its final stage, giving WRC teams the chance to experience its iconic corners in rallying machinery. It proved to be an engaging addition to the rally, and could perhaps serve as an example for other events to visit famous circuits

WRC
Aug 24, 2021
Home hero Neuville delivers overdue WRC success for Hyundai in Belgium Prime

Home hero Neuville delivers overdue WRC success for Hyundai in Belgium

With limited recent fortune and pressure starting to mount, Hyundai needed a big result at the Ypres Rally. All the key components came together in Belgium to see home hero Thierry Neuville lead a manufacturer 1-2 and kickstart its World Rally Championship challenge

WRC
Aug 16, 2021
The new car that can resurrect Ford's WRC winning pedigree Prime

The new car that can resurrect Ford's WRC winning pedigree

M-Sport has become the first to unveil its new-for-2022 hybrid World Rally Championship challenger, the Puma Rally1. Ford has upped its support in a bid for glory, but can the new machine roll back the years and return the Blue Oval to the top of the WRC tree?

WRC
Aug 12, 2021
The rookie WRC driver aiming to continue Loeb and Ogier's legacies Prime

The rookie WRC driver aiming to continue Loeb and Ogier's legacies

French drivers have dominated the World Rally Championship across the past two decades; Sebastiens Loeb and Ogier have racked up the titles in commanding fashion. With Ogier calling it a day on full-time WRC competition from next year, France will pin its long-term hopes on rookie Adrien Fourmaux, who looks to have a bright future.

WRC
Aug 7, 2021