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AL QASSIMI NEEDS BIG FIGHTBACK TO BRING UAE VICTORY IN DUBAI RALLY

29 November, 2013

Emirati driver must produce powerful second leg performance to overhaul Al Attiyah

Dubai, UAE, 29 November, 2013:  The Dubai International Rally is poised to deliver a tense last day finale to the 2013 FIA Middle East Championship as Sheikh Khalid Al Qassimi battles against the odds to give the UAE its first victory in the event for seven years.

At the end of today’s first leg, the Emirati driver was 29.7 seconds adrift of Qatar’s Middle East champion, Nasser Al Attiyah, who is now firmly in the driving seat as he tries to win the final round of the regional series for a seventh consecutive year.

Partnered by British co-driver Scott Martin in his Abu Dhabi Citroën Total DS3, Al Qassimi must now produce one of the best performances of his career if he is to round off the season with victory for Abu Dhabi Racing.

Al Qassimi’s second successive Dubai International win in 2006 was the last by a UAE driver, and he is determined to find a way past Al Attiyah and co-driver Giovanni Bernacchini in their Ford Fiesta RRC to break the Qatari’s dominance of the event.

 

On completion of the first leg’s six special stages, Saudi Arabia’s Yazeed Al Rajhi was in third place, with the UAE’s Sheikh Abdullah Al Qassimi, Qatar’s Misfer Al Marri and Jordan’s Alaa Rasheed, all driving Ford Fiesta RRC’s, completing the top six.

The 35th Dubai International Rally is endorsed by the office of H.H.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.

The traditional last round of the Middle East series had been expected to produce a fascinating tussle between Al Attiyah and Sheikh Khalid, and this was confirmed on the day’s first stage which the Qatari edged by just 0.1 seconds from the UAE driver.

Over the next stage, however, Al Qassimi grabbed the initiative, powering his Abu Dhabi Citroën into a 4.9 seconds advantage, before an incident on the next stage saw his lead reduced to 2.1 seconds.

As the Citroën mechanics repaired damage to his car’s front right side, Al Qassmi said: “On the last stage I was pushing a bit more and slid into a bush, then hit some rocks and came back onto the road. I lost about five seconds. It’s good to have the lead, but things are very tight.”

The first stage of the afternoon saw Al Attiyah reclaim the lead by 7.8 seconds, increasing his advantage to 22.6 seconds on stage five after Al Qassimi collected a ten seconds penalty for a jump start, before the Qatari extended his advantage on the last stage.

The biggest casualty on the day was the UAE’s Rashid Al Ketbi whose Skydive Dubai Ford Fiesta RRC was halted by mechanical problems after the day’s fourth stage.

But it was a good day for the Abu Dhabi Racing pair of Majed Al Shamsi and Bader Al Jabri who finished the leg in seventh and eight places respectively and held the top two positions in the Group N production class.

 

Leading positions at end of 1st leg:

 

1. Nasser Al-Attiyah / Giovanni (QAT / ITA) / Ford Fiesta RRC                             59:30.5

2. Khalid Al Qassimi / Scott Martin (UAE / UK) / Citroen DS3 RRC                    1:00:02.2

3. Yazeed Al Rajhi / Michael Orr (KSA / UK) Ford Fiesta RRC                             1:02:23.1

4. Misfer Almarri / Nicola Arena (QAT / ITA) / Ford Fiesta RRC                            1:02:31.0

5. Abdulla Al Qassimi / Steve Lancaster (UAE / UK) / Ford Fiesta RRC            1:02:32.8

6. Alaa Rasheed / Joseph Matar (JOR / LBN) / Ford Fiesta RRC                        1:07:21/3

7. Majed Al Shamsi / John Higgins (UAE / IRL) / Suburu Impreza N15               1:07:31.2

8. Bader Al Jabri / Nicolas Klinger (UAE / France) / Suburu Impreza N15           1:09:06.6

9. Nassar Nassib / Rony Maroun (Lebanon / Lebanon) / Mitsubishi Evo 9         1:11:48.0

10. Abdulla Al Kuwari / Khalid Al Kendi (Qatar/ UAE) Mitsubishi Evo 9 /                1:12:10.2