ABU DHABI JUNIOR DRIVERS IMPRESS AT JORDAN RALLY Mixed fortunes for Al Qassimi as hopes for podium finish are dashed Jordan, 2 April: Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority's (ADTA) Junior Driver Development Programme took a giant leap in its bid to...
ABU DHABI JUNIOR DRIVERS IMPRESS AT JORDAN RALLY
Mixed fortunes for Al Qassimi as hopes for podium finish are dashed
Jordan, 2 April: Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority's (ADTA) Junior Driver Development Programme took a giant leap in its bid to create the emirate's next motorsport champions, as all four Junior Drivers competing for Team Abu Dhabi at Jordan Rally sped across the finish line ahead of some of their most experienced rally contemporaries.
Since the grassroots programme's inception in 2007, the Junior Drivers have been developing their skills and gaining valuable understanding and practise with the full support of ADTA. The gruelling rocky desert stages in Jordan pushed all four to their limit, asking them to respond to conditions that even World Rally Championship (WRC) drivers were struggling with. But all four reacted positively, and have proved to their fans and backers that they have the ability to hold their own in knowledgeable company.
"This is a milestone in our Junior Drivers' development," commented Ahmed Hussein, Deputy Director General, ADTA. "The team is providing positive results time after time, and surprising some of the more seasoned competitors. We will now look forward to Rally Portugal on the WRC calendar to see how they utilise what they have learnt here and progress further."
Elsewhere, Sheikh Khaled Al Qassimi confidently led the FIA Middle East Rally Championship (MERC) for eight stages until hopes of a consecutive rally win were dashed as mechanical problems forced him to retire before the end of the final day. With only five stages left to complete, the Emirati rally ace experienced trouble with his Fiesta S2000's alternator drive belt, putting his hopes of more Championship points on hold until the next event in Saudi Arabia.
"I am really disappointed, we were driving well and comfortably leading, so to lose out on the possibility of finishing on the podium is frustrating," commented Al Qassimi. "In rallying you never know what to expect, anything can happen, but I have taken a lot away from this event and I hope to be able to use this to my advantage in Saudi Arabia."
The Abu Dhabi backed BP Ford Abu Dhabi World Rally Team, competing in the FIA WRC, also battled hard on the unforgiving surfaces, providing their fans with three days of exhilarating action. Finnish team driver, Jarri-Matti Latvala took his best result for almost a year finishing in second place. Team mate Mikko Hirvonen also fell victim to bad luck on the second day, and after competing under SupeRally rules today he finished in 20th position.
Final results for the Team Abu Dhabi Juniors saw Bader Al Jabri finish in fifth and Majed Al Shamsi finish in sixth. Sultan Al Amri and Khalil Al Shaikh finished tenth and twelfth retrospectively.
The next round on the WRC is to be held in Turkey, 16th- 18th April. Al Qassimi will next compete in the MERC at Rally Saudi Arabia, 20th -- 22nd April, and the Team Abu Dhabi Juniors will compete at Vodafone Rally de Portugal, 28th -- 30th May.