Accident at home adds to difficulties for Emirati driver at wheel of Abu Dhabi Citroën in Germany
Abu Dhabi, UAE, 14th August, 2013: An accident at home has added to the difficulties to be faced by the UAE’s Sheikh Khalid Al Qassimi when he returns to World Rally Championship action in Germany later this month.
Nursing two badly swollen fingers on his left hand, Al Qassimi plans to ignore a doctor’s advice and take the wheel of his Abu Dhabi Citroën Total DS3 alongside British co-driver Scott Martin in Rallye Deutschland on 23-25 August.
It will be the Emirati driver’s fourth appearance in the event, and regardless of his injury, he faces a big task to continue his pattern of improvement in the all asphalt rally where he finished 16th in 2007, 14th in 2008 and eighth on his last visit in 2010.
“It’s going to be a tough event for me, and the accident hasn’t helped,” he said. “I was reaching for the light switch at home on Sunday when I fell on the stairs, and I used my left hand to break my fall. At first I thought I’d broken my fingers because they were very painful and swollen.
“I went to hospital and the good news is that the fingers aren’t broken. The doctor told me not to put any pressure on them and that I really shouldn’t drive for three weeks. But he also said the swelling will reduce before the rally, so I’m taking painkillers and should be ok to start.”
“I’ll test the car in Germany on Sunday and take things steady to begin with,” he added. “Hopefully, the hand will feel better by then. The important thing is to do some set-up tests. I’ve never driven this car on tarmac before, so a completely new set-up is needed.”
The rally shows major changes since Al Qassimi’s last appearance there three years ago. For the first time since it joined the WRC calendar in 2002, the event starts in Cologne on Thursday next week, beginning with a display of cars and drivers against a stunning backdrop provided by the city’s cathedral.
Once again, however, the rally poses its own unique challenge, with the special stages being run on three different types of sealed surfaces.
“Generally, it’s a very fast rally, with a mixture of wide and narrow sections,” said Al Qassimi. “The roads are very narrow when they pass through the vineyards area, and then you have the famous Baumholder stages where you have a combination of mud and dust. If it’s wet there, your car can be sliding all over the place.”
The ceremonial start on 22 August is followed by two stages, one to be run at night. The next two days feature six special stages each, before three final two stages on Sunday 25 August take the survivors to the finish in Trier.