Northern Irishman has provided much food for thought, says Sheikh Khalid as reigning world champions look for WRC boost.
Abu Dhabi, UAE - 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.
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.
Abu Dhabi Citroën