x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 January 2018

Points hope for al Qassimi

Sheikh Khalid al Qassimi puts himself in position for a first World Rally Championship points finish as he finishes the second day of the Rally Ireland in eighth place.

Sebastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia of France compete in their Citroen C4 during the Rally of Ireland.
Sebastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia of France compete in their Citroen C4 during the Rally of Ireland.

SLIGO // Sheikh Khalid al Qassimi put himself in position for a first points finish in the World Rally Championship as he finished the second day of the Rally Ireland in eighth place. A string of quick stage times in the wet conditions saw him move up from his overnight 12th position and leave him on track to finish in a top eight spot and earn a single point for the first time if he can maintain his pace today. The Emirati said: "The rain is relentless and it's very difficult but I've lifted the pace and it's gone well. I'm not re-evaluating my strategy, I'm focusing on a top ten finish and if things happen and I end up in the points then great." He has a 50.4 second advantage to ninth placed Eamonn Boland going in today's final day, which will comprise five stages. For al Qassimi's teammate Mikko Hirvonen it was a disappointing start to the day as he was hit by power steering problems.

The Finn, who is in third place, lost more than a minute as he fell 2mins 30secs behind rally leader Sebastien Loeb, with the Frenchman's Spanish teammate Dani Sordo in second place. Hirvonen said: "It's a shame, but with no power steering it's extremely hard to catch the car with so much water on the road." The five-times champion Loeb leads Sordo by 1.09.1. Henning Solberg is fourth in his Stobart Ford, with the Citroen of Chris Atkinson in fifth place. gcaygill@thenational.ae