Sheikh Khalid al Qassimi was pleased with his weekend's work after an improved performance put him in the top 10 for the first time in Finland. The BP Ford Abu Dhabi driver took ninth spot, one place away from a points finish on arguably the toughest event of the season, where the gravel roads prove tough to conquer. "Ninth place was a fantastic result for what was a very difficult rally," said the Emirati driver.
"It is a specialist event and you have to have a lot of confidence to push. Five of the top 10 were Finnish drivers which shows what a specialist event it is." Al Qassimi's best previous result in the event had been 11th last year. Improving on that had been his objective going into the event, having not tested since his last rally in Greece in June. "The goal was to get an improvement and that was what we were able to do," he said.
"It is difficult to find your speed and confidence just like that when you have not been in the car for a while, but we improved as we went on." The Abu Dhabi Junior drivers also found the Finnish terrain tough, but could take heart from a promising showing, which was led by Ahmed al Mansoori, who finished a fine fifth in the Fiesta Sporting Trophy international series. He overcame a roll on the second day to achieve the result and he said: "I made some mistakes on the stages and even rolled once, but the lessons I have learned are going to be fundamental to my development."
The other two drivers, Majed al Shamsi and Bader al Jabri, retired on Saturday, but under Super Rally rules were able to return on Sunday and were placed seventh and eighth respectively.