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YOUNG EMIRATIS RELISH LATEST CHALLENGE IN DUBAI INTERNATIONAL RALLY

22 November, 2013

Abu Dhabi Racing quartet aim for strong finish to season of discovery

The Abu Dhabi Racing driver line-up for the Dubai International Rally (from  left) Al Jabri, Al Shamsi,  Sheikh Khalid Al Qassimi, Al Sahlawi and Al Mutawaa.

The Abu Dhabi Racing driver line-up for the Dubai International Rally (from  left) Al Jabri, Al Shamsi,  Sheikh Khalid Al Qassimi, Al Sahlawi and Al Mutawaa.

Abu Dhabi, 22 November, 2013:  The 35th Dubai International Rally will provide another big examination next weekend for the four young Emirati drivers who have enjoyed a season of discovery with Abu Dhabi Racing in the 2013 FIA Middle East Rally Championship.

Mohammed Al Sahlawi, Mohammed Al Mutawaa, Bader Al Jabri and Majed Al Shamsi all approach the final round of the regional series on 28-30 November with a mixture of confidence and caution in recognition of the desert test ahead.

They join two-times winner Sheikh Khalid Al Qassimi in the five-car Abu Dhabi Racing line-up in Dubai, at the end of a season which has brought Middle East action in Qatar, Kuwait and Jordan.

Al Mutawaa has also contested two World Rally Championship events, first in Germany, then in Spain where he was joined by Al Sahlawi, who will capture both the Middle East 2WD and junior championship titles by reaching the finish in Dubai.

“This season has been a great experience and, like the rest of the guys I’m grateful for the opportunity I’ve had,” said Al Sahlawi. “I’ve been waiting for a chance like this for so long, and I’m very happy that I’ve been able to take it because I’ve learnt so much this season.”

Partnered by Allan Harryman in an Abu Dhabi Citroën DS3 R3 2WD, Al Sahlawi is assured of the two titles unless he goes out of the rally. Should that happen, a win for Al Mutawaa would leave the two Abu Dhabi Racing drivers level on points, with identical championship  records.

In the event of a dead heat, the outcome of the two championships would be decided by the FIA, motor sport’s governing body, although Al Sahlawi hopes to avoid such a scenario.

“I aim to push a bit more than I did in Jordan and Spain because I want to compare my times with Mohammed’s,” he said. “But I’ll have a limit because I don’t want to lose the titles.”

“It will be the first Dubai Rally for myself and Mohammed, and I know there will be less rocks than in Qatar, while the route will be a bit easier to pick out than in Kuwait. It was easy to lose the track there because the terrain is so flat, and that taught me how important it is to get my pace notes right. This is what I’m working on most.”

The Dubai Rally is also another part of the learning curve for Al Shamsi and Al Jabri, who drive a pair of identical Abu Dhabi Subaru N15s. Mathematically, Al Jabri could yet clinch the Middle East Group N title should leader Mishari Al-Thefiri of Kuwait and Qatar’s Abdulla Al-Kuwari both fail to finish.

“The most important thing is to put on a good show in my home country, ” said Al Jabri, who will be accompanied by co-driver John Higgins as he looks to improve on his current fourth place in the production class.

“It’s going to be quite challenging, but I’ve finished the Dubai Rally twice before and I’ll be looking to take things quite easy through the first few stages and the go with the pace as I build my confidence.”

Al Sahlawi in action in his Abu Dhabi Citroën DS3 R3 2WD.