Team Abu Dhabi Gears Up For Rally Deutschland Trier, Germany. 17 August 2010: Fresh from Jari-Matti Latvala's record breaking win at Rally Finland, the BP Ford Abu Dhabi World Rally Team this week has its sights on the asphalt roads of Trier, ...
Team Abu Dhabi Gears Up For Rally Deutschland
Trier, Germany. 17 August 2010: Fresh from Jari-Matti Latvala's record breaking win at Rally Finland, the BP Ford Abu Dhabi World Rally Team this week has its sights on the asphalt roads of Trier, Germany, as it continues its campaign to claim a third FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) Manufacturers' title.
The Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority (ADTA)-backed outfit has it all to play for as it looks to beat arch-rivals Citroen in a rally the French have never lost. Yet, with the Abu Dhabi team's Focus much better suited to Rally Deutschland's lower-altitude, and its Flying Finns -- Mikko Hirvonen and Latvala - chomping at the bit to make amends on an up-and-down season, the ninth WRC round could be the most fiercely contested to date.
Adding to the mix, Team Abu Dhabi's Emirati rally ace Sheikh Khalid Al Qassimi and Irish co-driver Michael Orr are also making their 2010 competitive asphalt debut. The duo are hoping their experience across both the WRC and the FIA Middle East Rally Championship (MERC) this season will provide the spirited edge for another top 10 finish, and a further competitive points haul.
"Rally Germany will be our first asphalt round this season, so we will be hoping to adapt to the different surface quickly and put in a competitive performance," said Al Qassimi, the world's most successful Arab WRC driver in terms of points scoring. "We have competed in Trier a couple of times previously, so are familiar with the challenging and continuously changing terrain. This should be a very competitive race and one we want to be contending throughout."
Located within Germany's oldest city Rally Deutschland is renowned for its mixture of track characteristics from tight support roads during the early vineyard stages to the meter sized rocks welcoming drivers close to Baumholder. A hazardous course blended with frequently changing weather conditions always ensures an exciting spectacle as well as unpredictable finishing positions.
Luckily, the Abu Dhabi team can draw inspiration from the recent run of German successes for ADTA's motorsport fraternity. Team Abu Dhabi pilot, Hannes Arch, claimed a superb fourth consecutive victory in the final of the Red Bull Air Race Championship at the EuroSpeedway in Lausitz last week. Whilst Emirati racing star Khaled Al Qubaisi snatched his largest points haul to date while driving for Team Abu Dhabi in Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup at Germany's famous Hockenheim circuit last month.
Also looking to emulate their more experienced senior Abu Dhabi counterparts, the Abu Dhabi Junior Driver Development team continues its battle in the Fiesta SportTrophy International (FSTi) as the seven-round series follows the WRC calendar to Germany. It will be the first asphalt round of the year for the ADTA-backed juniors, and with only one of the six competitors having contested the event since its 2002 inception, the course will present a new challenge for drivers across the board.
And for Team Abu Dhabi's Bader Al Jabri and co-driver Stephen McAuley, the 'three rallies in one' course provides another mouth watering opportunity to build on their previous 2010 successes -- including a second placed finish at Vodafone Rally de Portugal and third at the recent Neste Oil Rally Finland.
"The experience we have gained over the last few rallies, particularly the result in Finland a couple of weeks ago, will stand us in good stead for Germany. As the terrain is a new challenge for most of the FSTi drivers, we will be looking to tackle each stage with caution and continue to build on our skills," said Al Jabri, who currently sits just eight points behind Great Britain's second placed Harry Hunt.
The WRC and FSTi action gets underway on Friday 20th August and will continue to the Super Special Stage finish on Sunday 22nd August.