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Dubai International Rally

UAE’s Sheikh Khalid Al Qassimi powering his Abu Dhabi Citroën Total DS3 on the final day of Dubai International Rally.
UAE’s Sheikh Khalid Al Qassimi powering his Abu Dhabi Citroën Total DS3 on the final day of Dubai International Rally.


Dubai, UAE, 30 November, 2013:  Sheikh Khalid Al Qassimi’s brave bid to give the UAE victory in the 35th Dubai International Rally was frustrated today as Qatar’s Nasser Al Attiyah survived a powerful second leg charge by the Emirati driver to win the final round of the FIA Middle East Championship. 

Trailing Al Attiyah by 29.7 seconds overnight, Al Qassimi produced a brilliant surge to win the first four of the day’s six special stages in his Abu Dhabi Citroën Total DS3 and pile the pressure on the nine-times Middle East champion. 

But with his advantage reduced to 15.4 seconds, Al Attiyah fought back to take the next two stages, and Al Qassimi suffered a frustrating anti-climax when he was forced out of the event by a double puncture shortly after completing the final stage. 

His departure meant that Al Attiyah, partnered by Giovanni Bernacchini in a Ford Fiesta RRC, won by 5 mins 33.6 secs from Qatar’s 2010 Middle East champion, Misfer Almarri. “I had a good strategy,” said Al Attiyah. “I was careful because I didn’t want to get any punctures. Khalid took the risks and I’m happy to win. It was a good fight and this is what we need for the championship to improve.” 

Finishing third in another Ford Fiesta was the UAE’s Sheikh Abdullah Al Qassimi, brother of Sheikh Khalid and runner-up in Dubai last year. 

After a ten-second time penalty on Friday’s first leg had presented him with a mountain to climb, Sheikh Khalid produced the perfect response over the second leg’s first loop of three stages, winning them all alongside Scott Martin in his Abu Dhabi Citroën to move within 19.8 seconds of the lead. 

He reached the service halt to say: “I knew I had to go flat out, but I also had to be neat in places to avoid overshooting corners. There was a very fine balance. At very high speed you can maybe gain a second here or lose a second here on the corners. We still have a lot of hard work to do.” 

He was looking to complete one of the biggest fightbacks in recent Middle East Championship history and become the first UAE winner of the Dubai International Rally since his own second successive victory in 2006. 

The fightback continued as he clawed back another 4.4 seconds on the next stages, but Al Attiyah was not to be denied his seventh successive win in Dubai. 

The consolation for Al Qassimi was in seeing the four young Abu Dhabi Racing drivers he has guided into this year’s Middle East Championship all finishing in the top ten in Dubai’s traditional final round of the series. 

With Jordanian driver Alaa Rasheed finishing fourth, Majed Al Shamsi produced a mature drive to take fifth place overall and win the Group N production class in partnership with John Higgins. The UAE’s Rashid Al Ketbi completed the top six. 

It was a good day also for Al Shamsi’s three other Abu Dhabi Racing team-mates. Finishing seventh overall alongside Nicolas Klinger, Bader Al Jabri was runner-up in Group N and also finished third in the category in the Middle East Championship. 

Mohammed Al Sahlawi, driving an Abu Dhabi Citroën DS3 R3 2WD to 9th place overall alongside Allan Harryman, captured the Middle East 2WD and Junior titles ahead of team-mate Mohamed Al Mutawaa, who finished 10th overall and runner up in both classes with Stephen McAuley. Finishing 11th overall, Kuwait’s Meshari Al Thefiri won the Middle East Group N title. 

The biggest casualty of the day was Saudi Arabia’s Yazeed Al Rajhi, a WRC2 rally winner on this year’s World Championship stage, whose Ford Fiesta RRC went out at the end of the day’s first of six special stages after multiple punctures. 

Provisional results: 

1. Nasser Al-Attiyah / Giovanni Bernacchini (QAT / ITA) / Ford Fiesta RRC         2:01:11.9

2. Misfer Almarri / Nicola Arena (QAT / ITA) / Ford Fiesta RRC                            2:06:45.5

3. Abdulla Al Qassimi / Steve Lancaster (UAE / UK) / Ford Fiesta RRC                2:07.40.3

4. Alaa Rasheed / Joseph Matar (JOR / LBN) / Ford Fiesta RRC                             2:15:57.9

5. Majed Al Shamsi / John Higgins (UAE / IRL) / Suburu Impreza N15                  2:16:09.5

6. Rashid Al Ketbi / Khalid Al Kendi (ARE / ARE) / Ford Fiesta RRC                  2:16:29.6

7. Bader Al Jabri / Nicolas Klinger (UAE / France) / Suburu Impreza N15               2:18:04.7

8. Abdulla Al Kuwari / Khalid Al Kendi (Qatar/ UAE) Mitsubishi Evo 9                2:25:44.2

9. Mohammed Al Sahlawi / Allan Harryman (UAE / UK) / Citroen DS3 R3           2:26:29.2

10. Mohammed Al Mutawaa / Stephen McAuley (UAE / UK) / Citroen DS3 R3    2:29:14.7



commallemagneAfter three hotly-contested rounds on gravel, the second half of the Citroën Top Driver season begins with two consecutive rallies on tarmac, before the concluding round on the Rally of Great Britain. With eight DS3 R3s starting the German meeting, it looks like there could be a fierce battle in store.

As the Citroën Top Driver teams approach the mid-season mark, the standard in the Citroën competition has so far proved very high. After Bryan Bouffier’s triumph in Portugal, Sébastien Chardonnet and Quentin Gilbert then shared the lead, before giving way to Keith Cronin after Rally Finland. The particular difficulties posed by the diverse racing surfaces have brought the strengths of the different drivers to the fore. The German round will be one more stage in the development of these champions in the making.

Some may expect the asphalt specialists to dominate here, but none of the drivers competing is new to the surface and, according to local boy Christian Riedemann, the result is far from a foregone conclusion: “Most of the teams in the Top Driver have good experience on tarmac. So the gaps are going to be very small and the way in which the drivers manage their race will be crucial. In any case, we will do all we can to win our home rally and try to get up in the top three of the overall standings.”

The structure of the rally will be the same as in previous years, except for the first day, which will begin with a starting ceremony at the magnificent Cologne cathedral, followed by two new stages, “Blankenheim” and “Sauertal” on the way back towards Trier.

Keith Cronin, who heads the Top Driver standings at present, will be drawing on all his experience on this kind of surface to keep his advantage. He will, however, have to contend with a strong challenge from Sébastien Chardonnet. The young Frenchman, currently lying second in the competition, just three points behind the Irishman, will be aiming for nothing less than victory on a course of which he is particularly fond.

“I know it won’t be easy,” said Keith. “But I also know that I can get a good result in Germany because I like driving on tarmac and the DS3 R3 is able to adapt to all surfaces and conditions. We have all the cards we need up our sleeve to have a successful race. It’s up to us to play them intelligently.”

Third in the standings at the moment, Quentin Gilbert will not be there to make up the numbers. More at ease on gravel, the 2012 French Citroën Racing Trophy champion has addressed his shortcomings on tarmac and is sure to keep pace with the leaders.

Simone Campedelli, who is back on his favourite surface, will have the same goals. Short of success at the moment, the young Italian prospect will be highly motivated to pick up his first win of the season. Stéphane Consani, who has shown his turn of speed and his potential in previous rounds, will be keen to turn that potential into results in Germany. Frederico Della Casa could spring a surprise in this first tarmac rally.

A new team will be joining the Citroën Top Driver championship in Trier. Mohammed Al Mutawaa and his navigator Stephen McAuley will be taking part in their first world rally. The Emirati driver has been competing in the Middle East championship in a DS3 R3 this season after winning the Abu Dhabi Young Driver Selection, and will have everything to learn on a surface he has never driven on in a rally before.

“We are moving into a new phase of the competition, with a change of surface for the next two rounds. Our drivers all have real ability on asphalt and it will be a closely-fought battle. To win, they must show intelligence and avoid mistakes,” says Marek Nawarecki, Citroën Racing’s Client-Competition Manager. “Rally Germany will also play host to a national Citroën Racing Trophy Junior race, in which DS3 R1 are involved. It will be interesting to see how the teams get on in a world event. Jordan Berfa, who has just won the last round of the Trophy Junior in France, will also be involved in his DS3 R1. So it looks like there is an interesting weekend in store at all levels of competition!”



1. CRONIN: 51 pts

2. CHARDONNET: 48 pts

3. GILBERT: 36 pts

4. BOUFFIER: 27 pts

5. RIEDEMANN: 25 pts

6. CAMPEDELLI: 18 pts

7. VAINIONPÄÄ: 15 pts

8. FISHER: 13 pts

9. DELLA CASA: 8 pts

10. CONSANI: 6 pts

11. PARLI: 4 pts



1. TOP TEAMS: 84 pts



























































Formula 1

Williams F1


Mike Coughlan, Technical Director: Monaco may be one of the shortest tracks of the year, but it’s the most demanding, especially for the driver. Although the corner speeds are the slowest on the calendar, you have to use as much of the track as possible and the closer the driver can put his car to the barriers the faster he will go. As it is a street circuit the grip levels change the whole weekend so it’s important to give the drivers as much time on-track as possible in order for them to gain confidence, particularly for Valtteri who has never driven here before. Due to the bumpy nature of the track, a good mechanical platform is required. We need to raise the ride-height and increase the steering angle capacity for the tight, twisting corners. We also run with maximum downforce there.

We made some small steps forward in Barcelona but it was still a difficult weekend for us. We have a number of upgrades for Monaco designed for the unique layout. We need to keep working hard though as it’s not been the start to the year we had hoped for. As a team, we are still focussed on getting the performance out of the FW35.

Pastor Maldonado: I have always been very competitive at Monaco, doing well there in GP2, so I always look forward to this race as I feel very comfortable driving the circuit. You can also feel the history of Formula One as you drive through the streets and tackle some of the really famous corners. Monaco is a very difficult challenge, both mentally and physically, as you have to try and find the limits of the car with no margin for error if you push too hard. Qualifying will be very important at this race and is probably 70% of the weekend because overtaking is so difficult and risky. Tyre strategy and tyre management is important as you always use the softer compound of tyres in Monaco and they are very sensitive this year. We are working hard at the factory to see where we can make improvements and hopefully we can continue improving the set-up of the FW35 and have a better result this weekend.

Valtteri Bottas: This will be my first time racing in Monaco and I’m really looking forward to it because it’s such an iconic track. It’s definitely the most challenging race on the calendar for the drivers, being an old school street circuit with no room for mistakes and I’m looking forward to the challenge of being on the limit at all times while being so close to the walls. In the past tyre wear in Monaco has been quite minimal, but with Pirelli bringing the softs and supersofts to this race the tyre degradation may be more of a factor, although less than we saw in Bahrain and Barcelona. It’s very challenging to get the car right at Monaco as it’s very different to all other circuits. There is a lot of undulation, so you need a good car set up to keep all the wheels on the ground around the whole circuit. It’s also quite bumpy which affects the ride height of the car.

Rémi Taffin, Renault Sport F1 Head of Track Operations: Monaco has the lowest average speed on the calendar: just 160kph. With low speed corners punctuating the lap the challenge is to deliver a highly responsive engine through the lower rev limits of the engine (around 15 – 17,000rpm) to give response on the entry and exit to the corners. Another key area to get right is the cooling. With so little time spent at full throttle and so much in ‘dirty’ air, the engine can run very hot. We’ll therefore monitor the temperatures very closely and run the water system hotter to dissipate the heat if necessary.

Paul Hembery, Pirelli Motorsport Director: For Monaco, we have the P Zero Yellow soft tyres and P Zero Red supersoft tyres. This is actually the same nomination that we have had in place for Monaco over the last two seasons, but of course this year the compounds are a lot softer. So we’d expect the supersoft – which was last seen in Australia – to be the tyre to qualify on and the soft tyre the one for the race. Monaco is the circuit that places the least demands on tyres all year, which is why we can run the two softest and fastest here. However, as the aerodynamics don’t generate a lot of downforce in Monaco, it’s the tyres that produce all the mechanical grip to get the cars around all the corners, so in this respect it is quite demanding.