Emirati driver survives intense final leg pressure to grab first WRC points of the season in his Abu Dhabi Citroën.
Abu Dhabi, UAE - The UAE’s Sheikh Khalid Al Qassimi produced a battling performance on a dramatic last leg of the Rally de Portugal today to score his first points in this year’s World Rally Championship.
Partnered by British co-driver Scott Martin in his Abu Dhabi Citroën Total WRT DS3 WRC, Al Qassimi came through a severe test of character over the final four stages to secure a hard-earned ninth place finish in the fourth round of this year’s WRC series.
Lying fifth in the WRC drivers’ standings after the first three rounds, Ostberg had led the event on the first day before rolling his Ford Fiesta WRC. After later re-starting the rally well down the field, the Norwegian launched a spectacular drive to get back amongst the points, and won three of today’s four stages to eventually climb above Al Qassimi into the top ten.
But the Norwegian’s charge only seemed to boost the UAE driver who produced a great surge of his own on the last two stages to move past Finland’s Esapekka Lappi, while he gained another place when the Ford Fiesta of Dutchman Dennis Kuipers failed to start the last stage.
It was Al Qassimi’s third top ten finish in the Rally de Portugal following his eighth position in 2009 and ninth in 2010, and he will now look to build on this result, with seven more WRC outings to follow this season with the Abu Dhabi Citroën Total World Rally Team.
Frenchman Sebastien Ogier survived a last day mechanical scare in his Volkswagen Polo to score his third WRC victory of the season and increase his lead in the drivers’ championship.
He won by 58.2 secs from Finland’s Mikko Hirvonen in a Citroën Abu Dhabi DS3, with Ogier’s team-mate, Jari-Matti Latvala, finishing third.
The next event for Al Qassimi is the third round of the 2013 FIA Middle East Rally Championship in Jordan from 9-11 May before he returns to WRC action in the Acropolis Rally in Greece from 31st May to 2nd June.
Abu Dhabi Citroën Total