File photo of Sheikh Khalid Al Qassimi (pictured on right) of Abu Dhabi Rally in action during Dubai Rally 2013.
Abu Dhabi: After his participation in Rally Sweden’s second round of World Rally Championship, Sheikh Khalid Al Qassimi, along with co-driver Chris Patterson, is heading to Doha to compete in Qatar International Rally, the first round of FIA Middle East Rally Championship, on board their Abu Dhabi Citroën Total DS3 RRC (Regional Rally Car).
This year’s rally, to be held between February 20 and 22, will witness the participation of three new Emirati drivers who qualified for the 2WD class after successfully finishing their trials under “Abu Dhabi Young Drivers Selection”: Saeed Bintouq, Juma Al Falasi, and Mansoor Yahya Bel Helei, along with Mohamed Al Mutawaa, and Mohammed Al Sahlawi — graduates of the first batch. The initiative aims at building a new generation of Emirati rally drivers by working on harnessing their talent and potential to achieve their best.
Al Qassimi said: “My objective, as in every participation, is to compete for the top positions in Qatar International Rally and all rounds of FIA Middle East Rally Championship”.
“Qatar International Rally is considered one of the tough rallies due to the rough nature and terrain of its stages. The competition is really high, and I will work hard to be at the heart of this competition,” he added.
Rally Qatar starts with a new Super Special Stage that stretches 2.27Km on Doha Corniche, after which all participating rally cars steer clear to the “Parc Femre”.
The Rally consists of 12 stages — three stages recurring twice daily. The first day’s stages are: Umm Wishah (21.93km), Al Shabhana (19.47km), and Al Kharsaah (25.62km). The second day’s stages are: Mkaines (20.90km), Salwa (15.33km), and QMMF (27.87km).
Abu Dhabi Rally, headed by Sheikh Khalid bin Faisal Al Qassimi, has launched the “Abu Dhabi Racing — Citroen Middle East Trophy”, which aims at encouraging and motivating a new generation of Abu Dhabi rally drivers.
Commenting on the participation of five Emirati rookie drivers in Qatar International Rally – 2WD class, Al Qassimi said: “Our programme creates opportunities for new drivers to pursue their ambition in the challenging world of rallies, but we leave them the liberty of choosing their passion in the world of motor sports”.
He added: “It is noteworthy that we at Abu Dhabi Racing work on building a new generation of drivers by providing opportunities for them to participate in the Middle East Rally Championship, and often times in a few World Rally Championship rounds, for distinguished Emirati talent that passes the trials of “Abu Dhabi Young Drivers Selection”, which helps them hone their skills to the point where they become capable of pursuing their journey. The programme is not exclusive to recurring drivers and runs in cycles to allow other young drivers to nurture their talent and perform this great sport correctly”.
When asked about what he expects from ADR young drivers at Qatar International Rally, Al Qassimi commented: “This is a great learning curve for our young drivers and a great opportunity for them to learn and benefit from the expertise of their co-drivers.
“It is a chance for them to carefully listen to instructions and notes and successfully translate them during the rally stages. Seizing this big opportunity to improve their skills is much more important to me than achieving record speeds, and requires a great level of discipline, especially in the early stages of the race, where the risk of aggressiveness could easily translate to misfortune”.
He added: “There is no call for demonstrating their abilities or speed, and I will be extremely happy when they all make it to the finish line, and this in itself is a great accomplishment for all of us, and will serve as a testimony for their capacity to learn and develop their skills while under pressure”.