x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 17 January 2018

All eyes on Abu Dhabi juniors as rally returns after 36 years

The three drivers from the Abu Dhabi Junior Driver Development scheme will be in the spotlight this weekend at Rally Poland.

The three drivers from the Abu Dhabi Junior Driver Development scheme will be in the spotlight this weekend at Rally Poland. Majed al Shamsi, Ahmed al Mansoori and Bader al Jabri compete in the Fiesta Sport Trophy International (FSTI), a support series for the World Rally Championship (WRC). This weekend is the third of the six races the juniors race in. Al Mansoori finished third in Portugal, while al Jabri was second in Italy two weeks ago with al Shamsi third. The three are mentored by Sheikh Khalid al Qassimi, who is 12th in the WRC drivers championship with six points but will not be competing this weekend.

Although al Qassimi will not be present, his Ford teammates, Mikko Hirvonen and Jari-Matti Latvala, will be confident of a third successive win for the British team. Hirvonen was victorious in Greece two weeks ago, while Latvala won in Italy before Malcolm Wilson, Ford's team director, said his drivers will expect to do well on a rally that is being reintroduced to the WRC for the first time since 1973.

"A new rally means it's a level playing field for everybody, and I'm hopeful we can be strong there," he said. "We've always done well on new rallies. I think we proved that, Finnish drivers in general tend to adapt to new rallies quicker than the others. "Poland is a fast rally and apparently a lot of the roads are quite like Finland, so that should suit Mikko and Jari-Matti." @Email:lthornhill@thenational.ae