Abu Dhabi's Sheikh Khalid Al Qassimi knows he faces another stern tarmac test on his least favourite surface at the latest round of the World Rally Championship in Spain this weekend. With BP-Ford Abu Dhabi and Citroen embroiled in season-long championship battles, Rally de Espana will see lead driver, Mikko Hirvonen and four-time world champion Sebastien Loeb, resume their title duel.
Hirvonen, who will be joined by new teammate Francois Duval, currently trails his German rival by eight points in the standings with four rallies still to be held this year. But the third BP-Ford Abu Dhabi driver knows he will be up against it in Cataluyna. "I was 14th in my Spain debut last year, but this time around there will be more entries and more quality drivers. I'm intending to lift my pace, but with a better field that may not show in the results," Qassimi said.
"This will be my sixth tarmac event in just over a year and I'm still learning. However, before I was just happy to be driving and competing, now I'm trying to get more pace out the car. "In Catalunya, I'll focus on setting-up the car and then review my first day performance. If I feel I'm heading in the right direction, then I'll lift my pace. "I'd like to finish Spain with no problems and go to Corsica with another asphalt event under my belt, more confidence and ready to really give it my all.
"These are the last two tarmac events of the season so it's important that I continue to make progress." firstname.lastname@example.org