WRC

Acropolis Rally: Sheikh Khaled Al Qassimi preview

AL QASSIMI's GREEK ODYSSEY LAUNCHES ABU DHABI's WEEKEND MOTORSPORT TRIATHLON - Land, sea and air trinity action takes emirate's name to Greece, Finland and Canada Sheikh Khaled Al Qassimi, the Abu Dhabi World Rally Championship (WRC) driver, ...

AL QASSIMI's GREEK ODYSSEY LAUNCHES ABU DHABI's WEEKEND MOTORSPORT TRIATHLON - Land, sea and air trinity action takes emirate's name to Greece, Finland and Canada

Sheikh Khaled Al Qassimi, the Abu Dhabi World Rally Championship (WRC) driver, launches an Abu Dhabi motorsport triathlon as he goes out all to clinch more Championship points in the Acropolis Rally of Greece starting on Friday 12th June. The rally starts a weekend when Abu Dhabi's name will be emblazoned across land, sea and air motorsport challenges spanning Europe, Scandinavia and Canada.

While Al Qassimi and his BP Ford Abu Dhabi Team competes in Greece, the 'Team Abu Dhabi' powerboat squad will be in action in Lahti, Finland while Red Bull Air Race Champion -- Hannes Arch -- will take his Abu Dhabi-branded plane into the skies over Windsor, Ontario.

"This will be a weekend like no other for Abu Dhabi's motorsports campaign," said Ahmed Hussein, Deputy Director General, Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority (ADTA), which is behind all three initiatives. "From the mountainous tracks of the Acropolis rally, to the scenic waters of Lahti and the skies over Windsor, Abu Dhabi will be a name to be reckoned with. Windsor, in particular, with substantial segments of its population of Arab descent, will prove a receptive audience for Abu Dhabi's case of being a major motorsports influencer."

Al Qassimi, the most successful Emirati rally driver to date, currently sits 14th in the WRC classifications and is looking to gain from his recent Rally d'Italia- Sardenga experience to climb the rankings. Conditions in Sardinia will be similar to those in Greece, with high temperatures and tricky gravel roads set to make huge demands on all the WRC teams.

Speaking ahead of a huge weekend for Abu Dhabi motorsport Al Qassimi said:

"While my eyes will be firmly focussed on the gravel roads in Greece, my thoughts will also be with our fellow Abu Dhabi teams competing in the Red Bull Air Race and F1 Powerboat Championships. For me, the Acropolis Rally represents a big challenge. We had to endure a huge amount of bad luck two weeks ago in Sardinia and I'm hoping that Greece will be kinder to us. We are expecting it to be very hot with dusty and rocky terrain and a great chance for us to utilise the experience gained in Sardinia until we fell foul of mechanical failure."

The BP Ford Abu Dhabi World Rally Team finished on a high in Italy claiming a dominant one-two finish with Jari-Matti Latvala leading from start to finish to claim his second WRC career win ahead of teammate Mikko Hirvonen. Both drivers will be looking to add to their points haul during the seventh rally of the season in Greece. The 2009 Acropolis rally is headquartered in Loutraki, 85km west of Athens. The three day programme includes a combination of grueling rough gravel tracks, classic roads, and plenty of hairpin bends.

"Combined with high temperatures this is going to be a real test for cars and drivers," commented Ahmed Hussein.

ADTA is expecting Greek fans to get fully behind their rally star with Abu Dhabi's name still resounding through Athens following the launch of Etihad Airways' new thrice-weekly service from Elefthlerios Venizelos International to the UAE capital. "Etihad has established the foundation for increased interest in Abu Dhabi within Greece -- Khalid's Acropolis Rally appearance can pique this further," added Hussein.

Meanwhile, in Windsor, Ontario Hannes Arch, who is affectionately known as 'The Flying Falcon' by his loyal following around the world, will be looking to retain his two point lead and keep Team Abu Dhabi at the top of the Red Bull Air Race Championship leader board. Arch comments "I've had tremendous support from both my team and supporters, from Abu Dhabi to Austria and across the globe. I've also heard there will be many Team Abu Dhabi supporters at the round in Windsor where there's a big population of Arab residents and this makes me really want to put on a show."

The eyes of Abu Dhabi F1 Powerboat drivers Ahmad Al Hameli and Thani Al Qamzi, who hold first and second place respectively in the Drivers World Championship, will be on the deceptive waters of the picturesque Lake Lesijarvi in Lahti, Finland. "It all may appear peaceful on the surface but Lake Vesijarvi is a course to be highly respected," explained Ahmed Hussein. "Finnish drivers have named it 'The Lake Which Makes Heroes Of Brave Drivers' -- a nickname which Ahmed and Thani will have to take seriously." Team Abu Dhabi lead the F1 Powerboat Team Championship by an impressive 27 points after only two stages. In a continued demonstration of its role as global motorsport hub, Abu Dhabi will also be hosting the penultimate race of the F1 Powerboat season in December.

The BP Ford Abu Dhabi World Rally Team is an initiative of the Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority which is title sponsor of the BP Ford Abu Dhabi team, Official Destination partner of the World Rally Championship, and creator of the Abu Dhabi Junior Driver Development Programme.

-credit: al qassimi

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Series WRC
Drivers Jari-Matti Latvala , Mikko Hirvonen