After getting off the mark in Portugal, UAE driver wants improvement in Greece in Abu Dhabi Citroën
Abu Dhabi, UAE, 27 April, 2013: Sheikh Khalid Al Qassimi is prepared for a brutal examination in this weekend’s Acropolis Rally as he looks to give more momentum to his 2013 World Rally Championship programme.
After scoring his first WRC points of the season with a ninth place finish in Portugal last month, the UAE driver is determined to improve on that performance in Greece, where he will have a full day of testing tomorrow alongside British co-driver Scott Martin in his Abu Dhabi Citroën Total World Rally Team DS3 WRC.
“The route is rocky and dusty, with lots twists and turns through the mountain roads, and you have to work hard. When you take into account the fact that the temperatures are high in Greece at this time of year, it’s going to be a very demanding rally.”
Despite getting off the mark with his points-scoring drive in Portugal, Al Qassimi was far from satisfied with his performance, or that of his Abu Dhabi Citroën DS3 WRC, and wants to deliver an improved display in the 59th edition of the Acropolis Rally.
“The important thing is to get the set-up of the car right this week,” he said. “With every test we are advancing in terms of getting the right balance.
“I’m looking for a better performance, and if I can avoid any problems and finish the rally, the result will come. I want to build my confidence, because I know if I drive the way I can and enjoy myself, I can do well.”
His sixth place in Greece in 2009 remains Al Qassimi’s second best WRC performance to date, although he is hoping to have a much smoother run through the event this time.
“On the first day that year, I was almost forced to retire,” he recalled. “On the second stage from the last the car wouldn’t start, and we had to push it uphill to engage the gear and get it moving.
“I thought we were finished, but we managed to continue. Then on the last day I lost a lot of time with punctures, but in the end I drove with my head, and managed to get a very good result.”
Added Al Qassimi: “When you get a result like that, it leaves you with good memories of the rally and you want to do the same thing again. But the danger is that you can try too hard and put too much pressure on yourself. The key is to approach the event with an open mind, and go with the flow, not drive with stress.”
Following tomorrow’s day of testing in their Abu Dhabi Citroën DS3 WRC, Al Qassimi and Martin must make full use of a two-day recce before tackling the Friday morning qualifying stage, and the two night stages that follow the early evening ceremonial start in Athens. Ten special stages follow on Saturday, with four more taking the cars to Sunday’s finish.