CARDIFF, WALES // With the limelight at Rally Great Britain being somewhat hogged by the world title battle between the WRC heavyweights, few rally observers noticed the Team Abu Dhabi junior driver Bader al Jabri finishing a commendable third overall in the Fiesta SportTrophy International series. But that, according to the team manager, Ron Cremen, was exactly the point. "The junior programme is about identifying steps and gently taking the drivers through them," said Cremen.
"We've come to the Fiesta trophy championship with the sole goal of building the guys' experience and Bader finished third at the first attempt - well done to him. "Bader's been the consistent one [all season]. In my eyes he has, by far, proved to be the best driver in the programme. "We have laid out a progressive development plan for the drivers, and apart from a slip-up in Portugal [the series opener], Bader has steadily improved in every round.
"He's young and we have years to build and develop him. But his ability, his notes, his speed, it is all getting better." The Fiesta-only series, which runs alongside six European rounds of the WRC, may be one of the smaller profile competitions orbiting the championship, but it is both competitive and affordable - key attractions for Cremen and his cadets. The Australian maintained the SportTrophy is the ideal arena for the UAE's fledgling rally drivers to hone their skills - and pointed to his pupil al Jabri's debut season success as the proof.
"Full credit to Bader, you've only got to look at the people he has finished ahead of to understand his progress," said Cremen. "He's come out of the Middle East region, where there is one level of competition, and lifted his game."