Tag Archives: Sheikh Khalid Al Qassimi

FIA Middle East Championship

Sheikh Khalid Al Qassimi powering his Abu Dhabi Citroen DS3 in Cyprus today.
Sheikh Khalid Al Qassimi powering his Abu Dhabi Citroen DS3 in Cyprus today.


Nicosia, Cyprus 13th October, 2013: The UAE’s Sheikh Khalid Al Qassimi produced a tenacious drive to claim second place in the Cyprus Rally today as Nasser Al Attiyah secured victory to capture his ninth FIA Middle East Championship title. 

After a series of problems on the previous day had effectively ended his hopes of a first win on the Mediterranean island, Al Qassimi had to show all his fighting qualities to climb from third position overnight alongside co-driver Scott Martin in their Abu Dhabi Citroën Total DS3. 

The Emirati driver reached the finish back in the Cypriot capital, Nicosia, 2min 51.8 secs away from Al Attiyah’s Ford Fiesta, having won a spectacular day-long battle with another Qatari, Abdulaziz Al Kuwairi, edging him out by 4.7 seconds for the second podium spot. 

That finish had looked in doubt when, early on the day’s first of eight special stages, Al Qassimi suffered a puncture and had to drive with caution for the next 11kms.

By the end of the stage, however he had overhauled Al Kuwairi who punctured on the same section, and then spent the rest of the day trying desperately to catch the Abu Dhabi Citroën. 

But while Al Qassimi had no hope of blocking Al Attiyah’s path to victory after his mechanical and dust problems on the previous leg, the Abu Dhabi Racing driver stayed calm under pressure to strengthen his grip on second place in the championship. He will now try to round off the debut season for Abu Dhabi Racing next month by beating the Qatari to score a third career victory in the Dubai International Rally, the final round of the Middle East series. 

Al Qassimi had reached the service halt on completion of the day’s first loop of four special stages to say: “We started the first stage with good momentum but then after 3km we hit a rock on the side of the road and that left us with a flat front right tyre. 

“I had to take it easy on the left corners to prevent the tyre sliding off the rim. But after yesterday’s problems we made some changes overnight and started with the car feeling much better today.

“I’m seeing a lot of lines from the two cars in front of me that look a bit dangerous to take. But if I don’t take them I lose a lot of time. The question is, do you take the risk, and that’s what’s going on in my head right now.” 

Earlier in the day it had emerged that Al Attiyah had gone perilously close to going out of the rally on Saturday’s last of eight special stages when his car hit a rock that had been pulled out of the ground on the racing line. The impact broke the sump guard, cross member and steering rack, and at one point retirement looked possible, but the Qatari survived to reach the service park where the damaged parts were replaced.

Cyprus Rally provisional results:

1. Nasser Al Atiyah / G. Bernacchini  QAT/ITA Ford  Fiesta RRC                          2:35:17.6

2. Shk Khalid Al Qassimi / S.Martin UAE/GBR Abu Dhabi Citroen DS3 RRC      2:38:09.4

3. Abdulaziz Al-Kuwari / K.Duffy QAT/IRE Ford Fiesta RRC                               2:38:14.1

4. Misfer Al Marri / N.Arena QAT/ITA  Ford Fiesta RRC                                        2:45:16.9

5. Costas Georgiou / E. Pieri CYP/CYP Mitsubishi Lancer EVO  IX                       2:48:23.9

6. Kyriacos Kyriacou / C.Aristidou CYP/CYP Subaru  Impreza                               2:51:08.1

2013 FIA Middle East Rally Championship standings after 5 of 6 rounds:

1.         Nasser Al Attiyah                   118pts

2.         Sh. Khalid Al Qassimi            69pts

3.         Abdulaziz Al Kuwari              57pts

4.         Roger Reghali                         43pts

5.         Sh. Abdulla Al Qassimi          30pts


Sheikh Khalid Al Qassimi powering his Abu Dhabi Citroën Total DS3 on the qualifying stage in Rally Australia
Sheikh Khalid Al Qassimi powering his Abu Dhabi Citroën Total DS3 on the qualifying stage in Rally Australia

UAE driver stays calm in Abu Dhabi Citroën as Meeke gets off to a flyer Down Under—

Sheikh Khalid Al Qassimi battled his way through a dust storm to make a solid start in Rally Australia today as the driver he launched into this year’s World Rally Championship grabbed the early limelight. 

Partnered by British co-driver Scott Martin in his Abu Dhabi Citroën DS3, Al Qassimi recorded the ninth fastest time on the qualifying stage as the tenth round of this year’s WRC series ran into an immediate safety issue. 

With thick dust churned up by the cars hanging among the trees and creating a visibility problem, the organisers bowed to pressure from the major manufacturers teams and extended the running gap between cars from two to three minutes. 

The driver who appeared to be least troubled was Kris Meeke, who produced a stunning performance alongside Chris Patterson in his Citroën Total Abu Dhabi DS3 to win the qualifying stage from WRC leader Sebastien Ogier. 

Meek’s flying start was no great surprise for Al Qassimi, who had nominated  the Northern Irishman to take his seat when forced to miss Rally Finland, and helped ensure he was rewarded for an impressive drive with another WRC opportunity this weekend in Australia.

Producing the perfect response on the 5.54km qualifying stage, Meeke later opted to start 10th when the opening leg leaves the Coffs Harbour base tomorrow morning, hoping to take advantage of the best road conditions.

There is no such luxury for Al Qassimi, who starts second on the road and has the unenviable task in his Abu Dhabi Citroen of sweeping loose stones from the gravel tracks which have been left dry and dusty by a long spell without rain in New South Wales.

With an outside chance of rain over the next two days,  the UAE driver is already prepared for the consequences based on his experience in Rally Australia two years ago when his fifth place finish was the best of his WRC career to date. 

“If it rains again this weekend we could see a lot of drivers sliding off the road, which is exactly what happened in 2011,” said Al Qassimi.

Rally Australia was continuing with two evening runs of the super special spectator stage in Coffs Harbour, the coastal town located mid-way between Sydney and Brisbane


Sheikh Khalid Al Qassimi powers his Abu Dhabi Citroën Total DS3 WRC through the shakedown in Germany.
Sheikh Khalid Al Qassimi powers his Abu Dhabi Citroën Total DS3 WRC through the shakedown in Germany.


 Emirati driver tackling stern test of adaptability in Abu Dhabi Citroën on return to action-

Abu Dhabi, UAE, 22nd August, 2013: After a difficult build-up to Rallye Deutschland, the UAE’s Sheikh Khalid Al Qassimi is facing a stern test of his adaptability this weekend in one of the most awkward rounds of the World Rally Championship. 

The ninth of 13 rounds in this year’s WRC series is also the first asphalt event of the season, and adding to the high degree of difficulty is the fact that the 371.92km of special stages spread over four days are run across three different types of sealed surfaces. 

“This is a very challenging event, and if your concentration drops for a moment it can catch you out,” said Al Qassimi, before leaving the ceremonial start in Cologne this afternoon (Thursday) alongside British co-driver Scott Martin in his Abu Dhabi Citroën Total DS3. 

“You have to have to be able to adapt quickly as the surface changes from one section to another. At the same time, while there are some very fast sections, there are also some extremely narrow and difficult stages, so it’s going to be an interesting weekend.” 

The rally’s first two stages were following later, the second of these being run in darkness in front of a large part of the estimated 200,000 spectators who will follow the action up to the finish on Sunday afternoon. 

After initially fearing he would miss his first tarmac rally for almost two years because of a hand injury, Al Qassimi is hoping the expertise of the Citroën team has put his Abu Dhabi-branded DS3 in perfect shape for its maiden journey on asphalt, despite limited time this week for testing 

Following him some time later into yesterday’s shakedown over a 4.55km section between Konz and the municipality of Kommlingen was young Emirati driver Mohammed Al Mutawaa, making his WRC debut alongside Stephen McAuley in an Abu Dhabi Citroën DS3 R3 2WD.


Having won his big chance with Abu Dhabi Racing at a selection programme last November, Al Mutawaa is experiencing his first tarmac rally this weekend and wants to learn from every competitive kilometer.


Over the next three days Rallye Deutschland revolves around Trier, with 14 more Special Stages to be negotiated before the survivors reach the finish on Sunday. 


Kris Meeke drew praise from all round with an impressive drive in Rally Finland in the Abu Dhabi Citroën DS3.
Kris Meeke drew praise from all round with an impressive drive in Rally Finland in the Abu Dhabi Citroën DS3.


Northern Irishman has provided much food for thought, says Sheikh Khalid as reigning world champions look for WRC boost  –

Abu Dhabi, UAE, 7 August, 2013:  Sheikh Khalid Al Qassimi says Northern Ireland’s Kris Meeke has given Abu Dhabi Racing and Citroën plenty of food for thought as they look to revive their challenge in the FIA World Rally Championship.

Nominated by Al Qassimi to drive his Abu Dhabi Citroën Total DS3 in last week’s eighth round of the WRC series in Finland, Meeke was lying fifth overall until he rolled and went out of the event near the end of the penultimate stage. 

Despite the setback which denied Meeke his reward for a hugely impressive drive, Al Qassimi says he could be given other chances in the WRC, where results this season have been disappointing for the partnership between Abu Dhabi Racing and eight-time manufacturers champions, Citroën Racing. 

Making his first appearance in the WRC for more than 18 months, Meeke closely tracked team-mate Mikko Hirvonen in Rally Finland while completely outpacing Spain’s Dani Sordo in the other Citroën Total Abu Dhabi DS3 to earn a huge amount of praise from all round. 

“He did an excellent job, and I wasn’t surprised,” said Al Qassimi, who missed the event because of other commitments. “He was up there with Mikko and much quicker than Dani, and he’s given us a lot to think about. 

“Our first priority is to get the best we can out of our drivers for the rest of the season, and we need to be on the podium. But already we’re looking ahead to next season, and Kris could get more chances.” 

Added Al Qassimi: “He’s a very good driver, that’s why we picked him. We considered several drivers, but decided Kris would be the best choice and he proved us right. 

“It was just unfortunate that he didn’t get the finish he deserved. I really felt for him, especially as I rolled in the same car in the Acropolis Rally.” 

Al Qassimi is now fully focused on his return to WRC action at the wheel of his Abu Dhabi Citroën DS3 in Rallye Deutschland on 23-25 August. 

In addition to looking for his best WRC finish of the season, the UAE driver will also be hoping for similar from Hirvonen and Sordo – placed fourth and fifth in Finland – as they try to narrow the 55pt gap to manufacturers championship leaders Volkswagen.


Al Qassimi powered his Abu Dhabi Citroën into the WRC points in Portugal and will be looking for more of the same in Greece.
Al Qassimi powered his Abu Dhabi Citroën into the WRC points in Portugal and will be looking for more of the same in Greece.


Emirati driver faces up to new route, night stages as he seeks another top Acropolis Rally finish in Abu Dhabi Citroën 

Abu Dhabi, UAE, 21 May, 2013: The notoriously rough and rocky mountain roads of Greece will pose a fresh challenge for the UAE’s Sheikh Khalid Al Qassimi when he returns to action later this month in the Acropolis Rally, the event which inspired one of the best performances of his World Rally Championship career to date.

Partnered by British co-driver Scott Martin in his Abu Dhabi Citroën Total World Rally Team DS3 WRC, Al Qassimi is eager to build on the battling display in Portugal last month which took him to his first WRC points of the season. 

Having scored a sixth place finish in the 2009 Acropolis Rally, a result he bettered two years later with fifth position in Rally Australia, the Emirati driver is optimistic about his prospects in Greece, although major changes to the route and the format mean his previous experience of the event will count for little. 

“I’ve done the Acropolis four times, but the problem is that they keep changing the location of the rally, and the stages, every couple of years,” he said. “The first time I went there (2004) it was far away in Lamia, then it came back to Athens, and now it’s in Loutraki. 

“I don’t know what kind of stages to expect, whether they will be typical Acropolis stages or not, but I know that some of them are long, about 50km. There are also some night stages, which I haven’t done for a few years. So it will be something different for me.” 

The Acropolis Rally has survived the ravages of the Greek economic crisis to present an itinerary shortened by one day but still retaining

some of the most fascinating special stages in the WRC calendar. 

The 59th edition of the event begins with a qualifying stage on Friday morning 31 May, with an early evening ceremonial start at Zappion, in the heart of Athens, followed by two special stages of 47km and 26km run in darkness. The next day brings ten more stages, with the last four leading to the finish on Sunday’s final leg. 

Al Qassimi, who will have a full day of testing in his Abu Dhabi Citroën DS3 prior to a two-day recce of the route on 29-30 May, said: “What I remember about this rally is that it is very rough on the car. You can do a lot of damage if you push at the wrong time, so tactics are important. 

“The conditions are rougher than in Portugal. There are a lot of rocks, and you can feel them through the body of the car. It’s a very demanding rally, very challenging.” 

Al Qassimi is not the only driver who will be happy with a repeat of his 2009 result in Greece. Mikko Hirvonen won the Acropolis Rally that year, beating current drivers’ championship leader Sebastien Ogier into second place.  

Victory this time would give the Finn a major individual boost, and lift the manufacturers’ championship hopes of the Citroën Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team, the second WRC entry created by the new partnership between Abu Dhabi Racing and eight-time winners Citroën Racing.


Al Qassimi is ready for a major battle for victory in his Abu Dhabi Citroën Total World Rally Team DS3.
Al Qassimi is ready for a major battle for victory in his Abu Dhabi Citroën Total World Rally Team DS3.


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