x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 17 January 2018

Al Qassimi's sixth sense

The Emirati driver avoids the rocks and wildlife to secure his best position in world rallying in Greece.

Sheikh Khalid al Qassimi, the Emirati driver, drove well on all three days of the Acropolis Rally to record a career-best performance.
Sheikh Khalid al Qassimi, the Emirati driver, drove well on all three days of the Acropolis Rally to record a career-best performance.

A safety-first approach proved to be a productive one for Sheikh Khalid al Qassimi as he claimed the best result of his career with sixth place in the Acropolis Rally yesterday. The Emirati driver, who is the face of the UAE's road safety campaign, practiced what he preached as he kept his cool on the tough Greek terrain in his BP Ford Abu Dhabi car to secure his highest finish in a World Rally Championship event.

While a number of his rivals crashed out or suffered damage to their vehicles after hitting rocks, or even wildlife, al Qassimi and his co-driver, Michael Orr, drove sensibly throughout the 16 stages to ensure that he finished and surpassed his previous best result of eighth place, which he had achieved three times this season. "What an incredible rally this has been," al Qassimi said. "The roads have been unbelievably tough and I can't remember so many drivers having had problems.

"But we stuck at it, despite some close encounters and I am so pleased for myself, Michael, and the whole Abu Dhabi team." As to the secret of his success as he continues to raise the bar as the most successful Emirati in the World Rally Championship's history, he added: "The boys in the team did a good job with the car, and we drove with our heads. I'm very happy." It was a great weekend for the BP Ford Abu Dhabi team as the Finnish driver Mikko Hirvonen won the event to close to within seven points of championship leader Sebastien Loeb while fellow Finn Jari-Matti Latvala recovered from going off the road on Friday to finish third and help achieve maximum constructors points.

gcaygill@thenational.ae