Mohammed Al Mutawaa knew he wanted to race on the World Rally Championship (WRC) circuit someday. He did not know the day would come so soon.
"It's like a dream, to be honest," Al Mutawaa said. "I never thought that my fifth rally would be a WRC event."
Al Mutawaa will compete beginning Thursday in the Rally Germany, his WRC debut, with co-driver Stephen McAuley, in an Abu Dhabi Citroen DS3 R3 vehicle.
"Not many people get this kind of opportunity," said Al Mutawaa, 24, whose home is in Ras Al Khaimah. "Abu Dhabi Racing has motivated me to push myself more and more, and I've very grateful for the chance I've been given."
After strong results in karting as well as circuit racing, Al Mutawaa moved into rallying this year, winning a place in the Abu Dhabi Racing team for the FIA Middle East Rally Championship at a Citroen selection programme. He made his rally debut in the opening Middle East round, in Qatar in January, before contesting the Kuwait and Jordan rallies, as well as a gravel event in France. He now faces the challenge of switching to asphalt surfaces.
"This is my first tarmac rally and we still haven't done any testing, so I will have to wait until the shakedown to see how the car reacts," he said, after a day of route-checking.
"I was able to understand the surface better. Tarmac has more grip than gravel, and for me the greatest challenge is to stay focused and not drive like I'm on a circuit, because the tarmac isn't as good, and in some areas, there's mud and gravel."
Sheikh Khalid Al Qassimi, a WRC veteran, also is in action on Thursday in Germany. The ceremonial start of the race is in Cologne, with the first two special stages following, and 14 more over the next three days.
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