ABU DHABI'S Al QASSIMI PROVES PERSISTANT AT RALLY SWEDEN
Sweden, 13 February; BP Ford Abu Dhabi driver, Khaled Al Qassimi, continued to grow in confidence during the second day of competition at Rally Sweden. The unique conditions of the snow and ice rally presented new challenges to the Emirati born driver, with temperatures reaching up to a freezing -20 celcius, but Al Qassimi has embraced the foreign environment rising up the classifications on every stage today. Meanwhile his Finnish team mate Mikko Hirvonen remains ahead of the pack, taking and maintaining the lead from six-times World Rally Champion Sebastian Loeb after 12 stages of the rally so far.
The warm Abu Dhabi climate became just a distant memory for the Emirati driver Al Qassimi, as the sheer volume of fanatic supporters willing to face the cold created disruption and resulted in a delay to the start of stage 10. A 40 minute wait meant the usually sunshine bound Al Qassimi was forced to endure the icy temperatures for even longer before the action could provide a red hot poker of adrenaline.
"The waiting does add to how cold we get and this can affect my ability to function the car properly. However, the presence of the fans boosts my confidence and really helps to keep me focused, " commented Al Qassimi. "I have so far been able to adapt to the snow and ice on the gravel, and if I can to stay within contention of the pace I will be pleased."
Undeterred by the alien weather, Al Qassimi continued with his scorching form, carving his way through the Swedish trees and producing consistent times. Having made tracks in the snow for the first time in two years yesterday, Al Qassimi is steadily getting to grips with the roads of ice and learning from previous stages. Perseverance is paying off, as many of his WRC rivals experience problems Al Qassimi continues to climb the places.
The Abu Dhabi World Rally Programme has been in place since 2007, and as a major part of that programme the BP Ford Abu Dhabi World Rally Team has consistently demonstrated their commitment to being at the top of the sport. At the mid-way point of Rally Sweden, the team is in a strong position, with Hirvonen maintaining his lead, Jari-Matti Latvala in fourth and Al Qassimi in 14th.