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SHEIKH KHALID AL QASSIMI AIMS FOR NATIONAL DAY GLORY IN DUBAI RALLY

20 November, 2012

UAE star hopes new car and co-driver can take him to his third victory in home event

 

Sheikh Khalid Al Qassimi is looking to celebrate UAE National Day weekend with victory in the Dubai International Rally.

Sheikh Khalid Al Qassimi is looking to celebrate UAE National Day weekend with victory in the Dubai International Rally.

Dubai, UAE, 20 November, 2012:  Khalid Al Qassimi hopes the combination of a new car and a new co-driver can help him end a run of disappointments in the Dubai International Rally and give the host country its first win in the event for six years over UAE National Day Weekend.

Since capturing the Dubai International Rally title for the second consecutive time in 2006, Khalid Al Qassimi has suffered a number of frustrations in the traditional final round of the FIA Middle East Rally Championship and is determined to make up for those setbacks.

Two years ago he powered his way into an impressive lead on the first leg, only to go out with a blown engine, and after missing last year's event through injury he is giving himself every chance of success this time.

He will be at the wheel of a brand new Ford Fiesta 1.6 Turbo carrying the livery of the recently-established Abu Dhabi Racing, and will be partnered for the first time by experienced British co-driver Scott Martin.

They were team-mates when Khalid Al Qassimi competed in the World Rally Championship (WRC) from 2007-2011 with the BP Ford Abu Dhabi World Rally Team.

Martin has been the regular WRC co-driver in recent years for Mathew Wilson, son of the team's manager and former British rally champion, Malcolm Wilson.

The Dubai International Rally is effectively a trial for Martin as Khalid Al Qassimi looks to select a co-driver for his return to WRC action with the Citroen Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team next season.

After the Dubai International Rally he will choose between Martin and another British co-driver, Marshall Clarke, who accompanied him in last month's Jordan Rally, his first competitive event following a knee injury lay-off from the previous year.

Martin could get the vote by guiding his driver to victory in the 34th Dubai International Rally. "I would love to win my home rally again, and win it for the UAE on National Day weekend," said Khalid Al Qassimi.

"I've got lots of good memories of this event, especially from 2005 and 2006, but I've also got some bad ones as well as I haven't always had the best of luck and there have been one or two disasters.

"I've always gone flat out to win, and either I have won, or gone out, the last time two years ago with a blown engine. It's a very fast rally, and a lot of it is flat out, but there are also some very technical sections and you have to use a bit of caution in places."

The 2012 Dubai International Rally is fully supported by the ruler’s court office of Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, and held under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Majid Bin Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Chairman of Dubai Culture and Arts Authority.

Organised by the Automobile and Touring Club of the UAE (ATCUAE) the rally will have its ceremonial start on Emaar Boulevard, in Old Town Dubai, at 7.30pm on Thursday, 29 November.

Dr Mohammed Ben Sulayem, ATCUAE President, said: “The Dubai International Rally is always a very special occasion, not only because it brings an enthralling finale to the FIA Middle East Rally Championship, but it also falls on the UAE National Day weekend.

“As organisers of the Rally, the ATCUAE is indebted to the continued support of the Dubai ruler’s court office of H.H Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, and H.H Sheikh Majid Bin Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, and it would be a great result for the UAE if Khalid Al Qassimi can win on home territory next weekend.”

The Dubai International Rally action begins in earnest on 30 November, Friday morning, with six Leg 1 special stages running in the Malaiha and Shawka area, all easily located from the Sharjah-Kalba Road. 

Another six special stages on Saturday's Leg 2 are in the Al Dhaid area and are easily located from the Sharjah-Kalba Road or the Al Dhaid Road. The drivers that completed the two legs will reach the finish back on Emaar Boulevard, Old Town Dubai, at 4.30pm on Saturday 1 December.