Mohammed Al Sahlawi in action. The young Emirati expects a tough test in Jordan.
Mohammed Al Sahlawi in action. The young Emirati expects a tough test in Jordan.


Abu Dhabi, 30 April, 2013:  Mohammed Al Sahlawi and Mohammed Al Mutawaa, two young Emirati drivers launched into this year’s FIA Middle East Rally Championship by Abu Dhabi Racing, are ready for their toughest test so far when Jordan stages the regional series’ third round next week. 

Driving a pair of identical Citroen DS3 R3 2WDs, Al Sahlawi and Al Mutawaa make their Jordan Rally debuts from 11-13 May and the pair are aware they must treat the event with extra caution as they aim to continue their rallying education over some of the region’s most demanding special stages. 

“It’s going to be a tough rally because it’s on the side of a mountain with tight roads,” said Sahlawi, who is partnered by Irish co-driver Allan Harryman. “It’s completely different terrain to Qatar and Kuwait; a totally new experience for us. I know from talking to Allan and other drivers that a single mistake can put you out of contention. My target is to avoid any mistakes, finish the rally and learn as much as I can.

“At the moment I’m working on simplifying my pace notes. They were too detailed and getting me confused. I need to simplify them so that I can react better when I hear them.” 

Abu Dhabi Racing team-mate Al Mutawaa, who is accompanied by another experienced co-driver in Stephen McAuley, said: “Everyone tells me that this is going to be a much more difficult rally than Qatar and Kuwait because you only have a small margin for error. 

“If you make a mistake in the other desert rallies you can go wide and still be OK. In Jordan there’s not much of a run-off area, so if you make a mistake you could hit a wall or go off the side of the mountain. This will be my first time in a rally like this so it’s better to take it easy to begin with.”

After the first two rounds, Al Sahlawi leads from Al Mutawaa in both the two-wheel drive and young driver categories which are new to the Middle East Rally Championship this season. 

In preparation for another big physical test in Jordan, both have been putting in a lot of extra hours in the gym. 

“Towards the end of the Kuwait rally, I was starting to lose concentration because I was getting tired, so I’ve been working on improving my fitness,” said Al Sahlawi. “Mohammed and I also started feeling some pain in our lower backs because we spend such a long time sitting down and taking multiple impacts. We’ve been doing work to strengthen our backs and upper bodies so we’re better prepared physically to handle the pressure. 

“Most people underestimate how physically demanding rally driving can be. If you don’t prepare properly, you can get tired and your brain is less alert. When that happens you don’t hear the pace notes being called out so clearly and mistakes can creep in.”

After a ceremonial start in Amman on 9 May, the main action in the Jordan Rally will again be centred around the Jordan Valley, close to the Dead Sea, with the route certain to feature numerous stages used when the country hosted the World Rally Championship in 2008, 2010 and 2011.

Euro Formula

Eric Dermont et Enzo Guibbert



For his debut in the French FFSA GT Championship, the “Volant Euroformula” 2012, Enzo Guibbert, made it to the second step of the podium in his second race after he finished ninth in Race 1! Behind the wheel of his Porsche 997 GT3-R managed by Philippe Alméras, Enzo outwitted all the traps and climbed level with the best. 

Enzo Guibbert showed his promise from the first free practice where he made second best time before qualifying in eighth position despite losing some time because of the traffic in his fast lap which prevented him from qualifying higher. 

For Race 1, his co-driver, Eric Dermont, ran a good relay before handing the wheel over to Enzo Guibbert mid-race. But two laps later the rain appeared bringing with it the safety car which did not do Enzo and his team any favours. The race was restarted for two laps during which the “Volant Euroformula” overtook three cars to finish ninth in a race that was cut short. 

For Race 2, it was Enzo Guibbert’s turn to take the start but, from the second lap, the safety car appeared again due to an accident. The Pro GT team opted for an aggressive strategy by quickly taking to the pits which allowed Porsche N°2, driven by his co-driver Eric Dermont, to take the race lead. After a fierce battle with his immediate pursuer, Eric Dermont had to relinquish his lead position two laps before the end. Though second place, it was still a satisfactory result in more than one aspect as the “Volant Euroformula”, Enzo Guibbert, explains to us: 

“If our objective was to reach a podium, then to make it happen confirms that we had worked well all weekend and that I had improved in all domains. I was just as comfortable in the rain as I was on dry which is promising for the future because I can only get better. Victory was close and this result was outstanding for my first GT race, bring on the next one! My co-driver, Eric, did a superb job and I want to thank the whole Pro GT team for guiding me so well. If I were to have one small regret, it would be in the qualifiers when I was held up and that was probably what stopped me getting into the second line. Better traffic management is part of my apprenticeship and I should do better next time.” 

For Laurent Fradon, the director of the Euroformula School, this excellent result confirms his hopes: 

“I told you he would amaze more than one of us! This result did not happen by accident. Enzo is talented and he knew when to seize his opportunity without making any mistakes, despite weather conditions that were sometimes difficult, and still he was fast. This second place calls for more and a victory must surely be around the corner.” 

Enzo Guibbert will take part in a day of tests on May 2 before the next challenge of the French FFSA GT Championship which will take place on the Imola circuit in Italy on May 18 and 19. Considering how competitive he is, the “Volant Euroformula” should be playing lead roles.


Kevin WSR

Three weeks after the season’s first two races at Monza, the Formula Renault 3.5 Series field has reconvened at Motorland Aragon for the opening World Series by Renault meeting of the year. In Friday’s collective testing Kevin Magnussen (DAMS) outpaced the pack to post the fastest time of the day, with Antonio Felix da Costa (Arden Caterham) and Stoffel Vandoorne (Fortec Motorsports) behind him.

Friday’s testing was preceded by a rescheduled session on Thursday afternoon, during which Kevin Magnussen mastered a damp track to finish ahead of Stoffel Vandoorne, Will Stevens (P1 by Strakka Racing), Marco Sorensen (Lotus) and Nigel Melker (Tech 1 Racing). Today’s two one-hour sessions gave the drivers further opportunities to fine-tune their set-ups for the weekend.

The morning’s light rain did not stop Formula Renault 3.5 Series points leader Stoffel Vandoorne from getting out on to the track first. As conditions improved, Jazeman Jaafar (Carlin), Matias Laine (P1 by Strakka Racing), Norman Nato (DAMS) and Kevin Magnussen all took turns at the head of the timesheets.

It was not until the final ten minutes of the session that anyone came close to the Dane’s time, but when they did, the DAMS driver upped the pace to improve his fastest lap not once but twice and end the morning on top from Antonio Felix da Costa, Stoffel Vandoorne, Nico Muller (International Draco Racing), Sergey Soritkin (ISR) and Matias Laine.

By the afternoon the track had dried completely, allowing the drivers to put some laps together. A keenly contested session began with Stoffel Vandoorne setting the pace, only for Oliver Webb (Fortec Motorsports), Nico Muller, Will Stevens and Mattias Laine to all go quicker.

Kevin Magnussen waited a whole quarter of an hour before making his entrance, as did Marco Sorensen (Lotus). And when the final ten minutes came around, first Antonio Felix da Costa and then Kevin Magnussen improved their best times to occupy the day’s top two slots.

What they said:

Kevin Magnussen: “We managed to work through our programme for the day. We had some good pace and we have to keep on working if we’re going to build on these performances tomorrow. We need to score big points. I can’t wait for the race to start.”

Antonio Félix da Costa: “You can only be satisfied when you get first place, though we were fast. It’s going to be a very tight weekend and we’ll need to keep an eye on the weather and see where we are on the start grid. It’s a track that everyone knows very well.”

Arthur Pic: “It’s a track that suited me last year, and I think it was a little bit different today. It was dirtier. I think we need to work on the set-up. I’m going to try and improve on my qualifying performance at Monza because it’s always nice to start in the top five. The team’s racing on home soil and I hope I can bring them their first trophy.”

Formula BMW

Welcome Event, Munich, Formula BMW Talent Cup 2013

Formula BMW Talent Cup – 
Welcome Event in Munich: 2013 training season officially opened
Munich, April 25, 2013. The 2013 Formula BMW Talent Cup season is officially underway. The talented young drivers, who BMW is preparing comprehensively for a successful career in professional motorsport, can now look forward to their first on-track event: BMW Motorsport Director Jens Marquardt welcomed this year’s drivers to the Welcome Event at BMW Motorsport in Munich (DE). In doing so, he gave the official starting signal for the 2013 season. Between now and autumn of this year, the participants will take to the track at renowned European racetracks, where they will face a multitude of driving challenges at the wheel of the BMW FB02 single-seater racing car. The talented youngsters will also receive comprehensive theoretical training.
As well as the on-track events, which include a large number of test races, the training schedule also includes extensive sessions in the race simulator, as well as modules on fitness, performance and media skills. The class of 2013 will meet up at the end of the week for the first on-track event of the season in Calafat, Spain. The complete field will take to the track for the first time in the BMW FB02 single-seater racing car, which has proven itself to be a reliable and safe training car for the Formula BMW Cup and this year features a new matt-black design. The “Grand Final”, which consists of two races and shares the bill with the DTM in September, forms the highlight of the 2013 Formula BMW Talent Cup. BMW will then finance the winner of the final for a complete season in a higher-level racing series.
2013 Formula BMW Talent Cup participants.
Surname/first name (nationality)
Allen/James (AU)
Baruch/Bar (IL)
Droux/David (CH)
Hansson/Robin (SE)
Mainusch/Viviane (DE)
Menzel/Nico (DE)
Önder/Kaan (TK)
Stüger/Florian (DE)
Szymkowiak/Jules (NL)
Wolf/Michael Philip (SA)
Zimmermann/Valentin (DE)

F1Weekly podcast # 624

Jakob Ebrey photography

The Duke of Dijon and the King of Karachi  share their thoughts on the results of the Bahrain Grand Prix, Motorsports Mondial special Interview with Racing Steps co-ordinator Derek Walters. And another episode of “Tech Talk” with Tim.

Derek Walters and the Racing Steps Foundation

The Racing Steps Foundation is a private, not-for-profit fund that provides and finances competition and personal performance development programmes for young British racing drivers and motorcycle racers.

The backing is provided for those with the talent and determination to climb to the top of the international motorsports ladder but who lack the substantial funds and all-important mentoring needed to get there.

The Foundation was set up in 2007 and this year is committed to supportinga total of 12 drivers and riders in UK, European and International race series.

The 2013 beneficiaries are:

James Calado (GP2), Jack Harvey (GP3), Oliver Rowland and Jake Dennis (Formula Renault 2.0 Eurocup), Ben Barnicoat and Ricky Collard (European and International KF karting), Dean Macdonald and Josh Smith (Super One Rotax MiniMax and KF3 karting), Alfie Brown (Super One KF3), John McPhee (Grand Prix Moto3), and Kyle Ryde and Wayne Ryan (CEV Moto3).

The man behind the RSF programme is founder Graham Sharp, a successful businessman whose primary aim is to prevent British racing talent falling by the wayside for budgetary reasons.



Al Qassimi: ready for action in Jordan in his Abu Dhabi Citroën DS RRC.
Al Qassimi: ready for action in Jordan in his Abu Dhabi Citroën DS RRC.


Sheikh Khalid spearheads five-car Emirati challenge by Abu Dhabi Racing

Abu Dhabi, 23 April, 2013:  The UAE’s Sheikh Khalid Al Qassimi will call on his latest World Rally Championship experience as he looks to reignite his Middle East title challenge in next month’s Jordan International Rally where he spearheads a five-car challenge by Abu Dhabi Racing. 

Partnered by British co-driver Scott Hamilton in his Abu Dhabi Citroën Total World Rally Team DS3 RRC, Al Qassimi has emerged from his recent WRC outing in the Rally de Portugal with some new confidence to carry into the third round of this year’s FIA Middle East Championship, running from 9-11 May.  

At the end of a difficult three days in Portugal, during which he never felt fully comfortable behind the wheel, a top-ten finish and his first World Championship points of the season have given the Emirati driver fresh belief as he prepares to do battle again with Nasser Al Attiyah. 

“I know I can do better, but taking everything into account, it was a good result in Portugal,” said Al Qassimi, who goes to Jordan hoping to reverse the results in Qatar and Kuwait where he finished second to Al Attiyah in the first two rounds of the 2013 Middle East series. 

“This is a new team and a new car which still needs a lot of work, and we can’t get the set up right overnight. I wasn’t happy in Portugal and we still need a lot of testing to get the balance right in the car. But when I consider that I was out of rallying for some time, and I still have some way to be at my best again, I came away from Portugal feeling better, so let’s see what we can do in Jordan.”

Winner of the Jordan Rally title in 2007, Al Qassimi was on course for a second victory in 2010 when he led on the first leg before being hit by a mechanical problem at the start of the next day. 

Al Qassimi finished fifth last year as he made a cautious return to rallying after almost a year on the sidelines as a result of injury, and he has great respect for the special stages in Jordan, many of which remain from the event’s three years in the World Rally Championship. 

“You have to be very precise there,” he said. “If you go off line on those stages, you can hit something or go off the side of a hill. You want to keep a good pace, but it’s dangerous to push too hard and you have to keep the right balance.” 

Al Qassimi, the 2004 FIA Middle East champion, is one of five Emirati drivers heading to Jordan with Abu Dhabi Racing, which was established at the end of last year to increase Emirati participation in international motorsport. 

Majed Al Shamsi and Bader Al Jabri, products of the Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority’s Junior Driver Training Programme which gave them their first Middle East Championship experience, return to Jordan in a pair of Subaru N15s to contest the production category. 

Meanwhile, Mohammed Al Mutawaa and Mohammed Al-Sahlawi, newcomers to rallying this season after topping a  three-day Citroën Racing-supported selection programme in Abu Dhabi last December, line up in the two-wheel drive class in two Citroen DS3 R3 2WDs. 

After a ceremonial start in Amman on 9 May, the main action in the Jordan Rally over the next two days will again be centred around the Jordan Valley, close to the Dead Sea,  the lowest land spot on earth at 420m below sea level. While the exact route is kept closely under wraps, it is expected to feature many of the challenging stages that were used when Jordan hosted the WRC in 2008, 2010 and 2011.