Top 10th finish will boost his WRC challenge, feels UAE’s driver
The UAE’s Shaikh Khalid Al Qassimi wants to use his latest top-ten finish in the Rally d’Italia Sardegna at the weekend as a platform to raise the level of his challenge in this year’s FIA World Rally Championship.
Partnered by British co-driver Scott Martin in his Abu Dhabi Citroën Total DS3, the Emirati driver secured 10th place in Sardinia for his second point-scoring result in the 2013 WRC series, and immediately set his sights higher.
“I’m taking positives from this, but I know I can do a lot better,” said Al Qassimi at the finish on Saturday night. “Most of all, I’m pleased to have made it to the end without making any mistakes.
“After my accident in the Acropolis Rally I didn’t take any risks. I was a bit happier with the way it went today, but I need more time to get my confidence back.”
“We didn’t have time for a test before the rally and overall to finish in the top ten was satisfying. Friday was a very long day and this was a tough rally. The stages are narrow and very rough, with lots of rocks, and a small mistake can be costly.”
Al Qassimi had been hoping to match his best WRC result of the season to date, a ninth place finish in the Rally de Portugal in April.
That will now be his target on his next WRC appearance on August 23-25 in the Rallye Deutschland, where he finished eighth in 2010.
Before the German round, Al Qassimi must nominate a driver to take over from him at the wheel of the Abu Dhabi Citroën DS3 in Rally Finland on August 2-4.
Frenchman Sebastien Ogier won in Sardinia in his Volkswagen Polo to extend his lead in the World Rally Championship to 64 points, with Belgian Thierry Neu-ville finishing second in a Ford Fiesta RS for the best result of his career.
Spain’s Dani Sordo finished fourth in his DS3, and with teammate Mikko Hirvonen among the non finishers, the Citroën Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team now trail Volkswagen by 46 points in the race for the manufacturers’ title.