Nine years after making his first World Rally Championship (WRC) appearance in Greece, Sheikh Khalid Al Qassimi says his four previous appearances in the Acropolis Rally will count for little when he returns to action in the event today.
Partnered by British co-driver Scott Martin in his Abu Dhabi Citroen Total World Rally Team DS3 WRC, Sheikh Khalid said it will be like starting all over again in a rally which shows major changes from his last visit in 2009, with new stages, and a section run in darkness.
"My first Acropolis Rally was completely different, as it was run 300km from where we are now, so there's no comparison," he said. "All I can remember is that it was raining a lot, and that it was very tough. But all WRC events are tough, so I didn't expect anything else."
He hasn't competed in the race in the past four years. "I don't think any of the previous rallies I did here will help me this time," he said. "I'll take it as it comes."
For the last two days, Al Qassimi has been taking medication after falling sick before starting testing on Tuesday.
"I ate something the night before which didn't agree with me, and I had a fever and a virus," he said. "But apart from that, the testing was good.
"We tried different set-ups with the car and changed a lot of things. The biggest changes made so far are to the roll bar. We also made changes to the diff, the pitch of the car, and the springs, to suit the conditions which are rough and fast.
"We also did night testing, which was very difficult, more difficult than in the daytime.
"It's a lot more unpredictable driving in the dark and it's harder to pick out the angles, ditches and pitches of the roads." Today's opening stage in Greece will consist of two stages, with another eight tomorrow, before the event concludes on Sunday with four stages.
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