x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 January 2018

Mads Ostberg sits in third place for Abu Dhabi.

Sheikh Khalid Al Qassimi in Italy on June 6 2014.  EPA
Sheikh Khalid Al Qassimi in Italy on June 6 2014. EPA

Citroen Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team driver Sheikh Khalid Al Qassimi mixed caution with aggression as he made steady progress on day one of Rally Italia Sardegna on Friday. Sheikh Khalid, with Chris Patterson as his co-driver, began the first full competitive day of Round 6 of the FIA World Rally Championship in Italy in 22nd overall after the Super Special Stage on Thursday night, and ended yesterday’s eight special stages in 12th overall and ninth in the WRC standings.

The Citroen DS3 driver said: “At the beginning this morning, I was cautious and exploring the stages in order to build my confidence.

“The stages on the first day are generally good but it is difficult to predict what is in store as the day progresses. Some of the stages were technical in nature while others required us to drive at high speed.”

As expected, the stages were rugged and Sheikh Khalid now anticipates that minor adjustments to the DS3’s set up overnight could help him make further progress over the weekend.

Meanwhile, Citroen Total Abu Dhabi’s Mads Ostberg drove brilliantly and fought his way up from 10th at the start in the morning to finish third overall at the end of the day.

The Norwegian made steady progress, rising to seventh and then fighting for first place with Volkswagen’s Jari-Matti Latvala while coming under pressure from Sebastien Ogier and Andreas Mikkelsen, also of Volkswagen, for second place.

Østberg though held off the Volkswagen challenge until special stage eight, sitting well in second overall, but on the final stage the DS3 driver eventually finished the day in third overall.

Day two on Saturday will see the drivers tackle a total competitive distance of 157km, including the 59.13km Monte Lerno loop – widely regarded as the longest on the WRC calendar this year – over four stages in two sections.