SPANISH CAMPAIGN FOR AL QASSIMI'S WRC POINTS BATTLE Abu Dhabi Junior Drivers return to contend FSTi Title ABU DHABI, 30 September, 2009: High drama is set to unravel at Rallye de Espana this weekend as BP Ford Abu Dhabi team driver Sheikh...
SPANISH CAMPAIGN FOR AL QASSIMI'S WRC POINTS BATTLE
Abu Dhabi Junior Drivers return to contend FSTi Title
ABU DHABI, 30 September, 2009: High drama is set to unravel at Rallye de Espana this weekend as BP Ford Abu Dhabi team driver Sheikh Khaled Al Qassimi continues his campaign for World Rally Championship (WRC) points. Currently lying 12th in the WRC driver championship, there are only three points separating Al Qassimi and his closest rivals, Conrad Rautenbach and Mads Ostberg as they hotly contest tenth position.
"The margins are small in this penultimate rally of the series, and all drivers will be pushing to the maximum to gain the advantage on the rapid roads of Salou," said Al Qassimi. "The asphalt surface is going to present new challenges and I will need to concentrate on a different set of skills to the last few rallies. The stages will be fast and more streamlined, but I am going to push with everything I have to try and finish in the points this weekend".
The WRC's Spanish round is an 18 stage asphalt challenge, requiring racing driver techniques to create the fastest lines possible. The buzzing tourist town of Salou, south of Barcelona, has been the home of this rally since 2005 and the PortAventura theme park service park makes this a popular spectator event. The crowds will be out in force, adding to the electric atmosphere as the 2009 WRC series speeds towards a dramatic climax.
Also returning to compete in the rally's Fiesta Sporting Trophy International (FSTi) are the three Abu Dhabi Junior drivers, who will have to focus on the Tarragon region's twisting roads following their two-month rally break. Having last competed in Finland the Emiratis will need to adapt from the rapid and undulating gravel tracks to Spain's smooth surfaces which present a fresh challenge for the inexperienced.
Bader Al Jabri currently lies in third position, while Abu Dhabi team mates Majed Al Shamsi and Ahmed Al Mansoori are tying for fourth. The three Emirati juniors are divided by only five points, with Spain being the penultimate round of the year, there is every chance for any of them to forge ahead and claim the title.
"We spent time practising on the track in Abu Dhabi last week. The facilities we have here have enabled us to practise driving smoother lines and pushing for the fastest times. We will be doing our best to challenge for the FSTi title", said Al Shamsi.
Meanwhile Al Qassimi's BP Ford Abu Dhabi team mates, Mikko Hirvonen and Jari-Matti Latvala, will be looking to continue their points haul in the WRC's 11th round. The BP Ford Abu Dhabi team has been victorious in all five of the last rallies, with Hirvonen claiming first place since Rally Greece, pushing the Finn into the driver Championship lead, and closing the gap with Citroen in the Manufacturer points.