x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 24 January 2018

Sheikh Khalid ready for snow days in Sweden with his Citroen for WRC

Sheikh Khalid Al Qassimi will draw on teammates Sebastien Loeb and Mikko Hirvonen to help cope with the snowy terrain of Sweden. Closer to the UAE, the Al Ain Raceway hosts karting.

Sheikh Khalid Al Qassimi of the Abu Dhabi Citroen World Rally Racing team will be making the transition from the hard surfaces and sand of the Qatar Rally to snowy Sweden next Thursday.
Sheikh Khalid Al Qassimi of the Abu Dhabi Citroen World Rally Racing team will be making the transition from the hard surfaces and sand of the Qatar Rally to snowy Sweden next Thursday.

The challenge of swapping the tough terrain of Qatar for the snowy conditions of Sweden has excited Sheikh Khalid Al Qassimi as he prepares for his first round of the World Rally Championship (WRC) in Sweden next week.

The Emirati has not competed in the WRC since Rally Spain in October 2011 and missed all of 2012 as he took time out to recover from a knee operation.

But having finished second in the opening round of the Middle East Rally Championship (Merc), Sheikh Khalid is looking forward to his return to the upper echelons of rallying with the Abu Dhabi Citroen Total World Rally Team.

"I feel better than ever and I'm really hungry to get back to the WRC," he said.

"I feel I have unfinished business and I'm returning to the international arena with a point to prove."

Sheikh Khalid has competed three times before in Sweden, with his best result being 11th in 2011, and he is familiar with the tests that the icy roads in and around Karlstad will have to offer.

"It's an extreme test, especially after Qatar," Sheikh Khalid said.

"The two rallies couldn't be more different. As a rally driver you have to get used to constantly changing environments and terrain. It's never easy; no two events are the same. Everything varies from rally to rally and every event presents its own challenges."

Since Rally Sweden was first held in 1950, the event has had only one non-Nordic winner, Sebastien Loeb, the nine-times world champion, who is one of Sheikh Khalid's teammates at Citroen.

Loeb underlined his mastery of winter rallies with a seventh victory in the Monte Carlo Rally, the first round of the WRC season, earlier this month, and Sheikh Khalid is confident he can pick tips from him and his other teammate Mikko Hirvonen, who has won twice before in Sweden in 2010 and 2011.

"We're now part of the same team and they can definitely help me," he said. "We'll spend a lot of time sharing information based on experience in testing."

Sheikh Khalid is due to take part in nine rounds of the 13-round series this season as he balances his WRC work along doing a full season in the Merc.

Rally Sweden begins Thursday, February 7 and runs until Sunday, February 10.


George heads to Al Ain Raceway firmly in the driver's seat

Oliver George will be out to increase his lead in the DD2 championship when Round 7 of the UAE Rotax Max Challenge series comes under orders at Al Ain Raceway on Thursday.

The British-born racer won the last two rounds at Dubai Autodrome earlier this month and his nearest challenger, Mohammed Al Dhaheri, needs a strong points haul to keep his championship hopes alive.

The 125 MAX class will again field 26 karts with the series leader Alexandre Silanine under pressure from Philippe Valenza.

Abdulla Al Rawahi is also looking to stay in the title hunt, with the Omani, saying: "I have had some bad luck so far, but I am still in with a chance for the title. So long as I stay out of trouble I think I can make ground."

Tehmur Chohan will need to hold off the increased challenge from an in-form Alain Bauwmans and Ivan Berets if he is continue his journey towards a second consecutive Mini MAX title, while Sem Knopjes remains the class favourite for Micro MAX.

Sam Zian will be going head-to-head with Piers Pakenham-Walsh in the Honda Challenge once more. With only two rounds left of the Honda season he needs to score heavily to claw back Pakenham-Walsh's lead.

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