MERC: Hamed Al-Wahaibi Argentina preview

Omani driver Hamed Al-Wahaibi goes to South America. Hamed Al-Wahaibi's next rally venture is on the Rally Argentina in the Province of Cordoba, round three in the FIA's seven round Production Car World Rally Championship. It will be the...

Omani driver Hamed Al-Wahaibi goes to South America.

Hamed Al-Wahaibi's next rally venture is on the Rally Argentina in the Province of Cordoba, round three in the FIA's seven round Production Car World Rally Championship.

It will be the second event in his six-round programme this year. "It is only my third attempt at this rally so I do not have a lot of experience of this event," Hamed explained, "I know enough to realise this is not an easy rally. There are often rocks in the road and you have to be careful not to have a puncture or damage the suspension. It is an event in which you must not drive flat-out all the time if you want to be sure to finish."

Third place in the PCWRC category in New Zealand means that Hamed is currently in sixth place in the series. "This is an event which should be good for gaining points. If you keep your driving clean and avoid problems, a good position is attainable." On this event every competitor except two will be at the wheel of a Mitsubishi, or a Mitsubishi derived car. The main exception is Toshi Arai, the Subaru driver who won the preceding round of the championship.

The route for Rally Argentina this year has been made more compact than before, with the Service Park situated at La Cumbre, some 60km north of the headquarters at Villa Carlos Paz. The essential challenges remain. The sandy stages often conceal rocks which can be dislodged by the passage of rally cars, and increases the risk of punctures. If the autumn conditions coincide with wet weather, there can be many water crossings en route, maybe also fog or low cloud on the higher ground. This year the highest stages do not appear on the route but still the rally goes up over 1600 metres.

Codriver Nicky Beech is enthralled with the prospect for the event. "I have never been to Argentina before, but Hamed has sent me a lot of videos he has made from his previous times at the rally, to give me a good feel for the place. This event is going to be a big adventure!" Nicky reports that New Zealand was a good event for developing a relationship with Hamed. "We have really begun to work well together. Meanwhile I have been busy back in Britain. Last weekend was the opening round of the Pirelli British Rally Championship and my driver Jonny Milner and I finished second overall."

Rally drivers and enthusiasts throughout the world have been shocked to hear about the recent accident in New Zealand to the PCWRC contender and three times FIA Asia-Pacific champion Possum Bourne. "Possum was a true champion," said Hamed. "He was such a strong character but his enjoyment for everything he did was so infectious. It is unbelievable to know we cannot expect to have him with us any more. It is tragic."

Current PCWRC Championship Standings after two rounds: =1 Blomqvist, Singh & Rowe 11 points, 4 Arai 10, 5 Ligato 8, 6 Al-Wahaibi 6, 7 Bourne 5, =8 Holowczyc & Ferreyros 4, 10 Roman 3, 11 Sztuka & McShea 2, 13 Richard 1.

-dm/rallynet-

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Series Other rally , WRC