After a difficult build-up to the Sardinia Rally, the UAE's Sheikh Khalid Al Qassimi has been studying videos to boost his prospects in this weekend's seventh round of the FIA World Rally Championship.
Partnered by the British co-driver Scott Martin, the Emirati's preparations were hindered by logistical problems that kept him from any pre-event testing in Sardinia at the wheel of his Abu Dhabi Citroen Total World Rally Team car.
Thus, yesterday morning's shakedown ahead of the qualifying stage was the first time he had been in the car since the accident that put him out of last month's Acropolis Rally.
"There was just no time for a test, which is not exactly the ideal preparation after the crash," said Al Qassimi, after completing the qualifying stage with the 12th-fastest time.
"It wasn't easy. I've spent the last two weeks trying to forget the crash, but at the moment every time I go into a corner I'm thinking of Greece. Here, the stages are much narrower and there's a lot of rocks, so I'm having to take it a bit easy to begin with.
"I'm working on building my confidence, and it won't come back straight away so I'm driving a bit cautiously in places. I just need to go with the flow and find the confidence."
In between qualifying and the ceremonial start, Al Qassimi was studying videos of his two-day recce of the route to get to know the stages better.
"There isn't much time, but I'm watching as much of the videos as I can to help memorise the stages," he said.
Al Qassimi will run first on the road on Friday's first leg, which brings a gruelling, 16-hours of rallying, with eight special stages.
"It's a very, very long day," he said. "The sun will just be rising when I get up, and it will be midnight before we finish. Then I'll have about four-and-a-half hours of sleep and we start again."
Another eight stages lead to the finish on Saturday.
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