AL QASSIMI READY FOR CLASSIC BATTLE IN KUWAIT-
Abu Dhabi Racing star says second round line-up could be strongest in FIA Middle East Championship history
Abu Dhabi, 19 March, 2013: Sheikh Khalid Al Qassimi believes this weekend’s Kuwait International Rally could produce a classic battle for supremacy between the Arab world’s top drivers in what is arguably the strongest line-up in FIA Middle East Championship history.
The UAE star’s Abu Dhabi Citroën Total World Rally Team DS3 is one of ten powerful Regional Rally Cars contesting the second round of this year’s regional series on Friday and Saturday.
And while reigning Middle East champion Nasser Al Attiyah and Al Qassimi are seen as the two most likely winners, the Emirati driver believes at least two other contenders, Qatar’s Abdulaziz Al Kuwari and Saudi Arabia’s Yazeed Al Rajhi, could mount serious challenges for victory.
“This could be the strongest ever Middle East rally,” said Al Qassimi. “We have 28 cars, one more than the WRC Rally of Mexico last week and there’s a lot of quality.
“Most people seem to be focusing on Nasser and myself, especially after we finished first and second in the first round in Qatar. I think there are four or five drivers who could win.
“Abdulaziz showed what he can do by winning the WRC2 title in Rally Mexico and Yazeed did the same in the previous round in Sweden. They are both fast and will be battling for every stage – they’ll be hard to drop.”
Partnered by Scott Martin in the Abu Dhabi Citroën Total World Rally Team DS3, Al Qassimi says the size and depth of the Kuwait International Rally starting line-up augurs well for the future of the FIA Middle East series.
He also hopes the emergence of Abu Dhabi Racing as a new force in the championship will help to raise the profile of the series and attract more young Arab talent.
“What we’re doing in Abu Dhabi is creating a lot of interest and helping to raise standards in the championship,” he said. “We’ve started something and we’re hoping it will open the door for others to follow.”
Also part of the impressive Abu Dhabi Racing driver line-up in Kuwait are Mohammed Al-Sahlawi and Mohammed Al Mutawaa who contest the new 2WD category in a pair of Citroën DS3 R3s. Elsewhere, Bader Al Jabri competes in Group N in a Subaru N15.
FIA Middle East Rally Championship leading positions after Round 1:
1. Nasser Al Attiyah (QAT) 25pts
2. Khalid Al Qassimi (UAE) 18pts
3. Abdulaziz Al Kuwari (QAT) 15pts
4. Khalid Al Suwaidi (QAT) 12pts
5. Adullah Al Qassimi(UAE) 10pts
6. Yazeed Al Rajhi (KSA) 8pts
7. Abdulla Al Kuwari (QAT) 6pts
8. Bader Al Jabri (UAE) 4pts