UAE driver knows rocky Acropolis Rally is punishing on cars.
Sheikh Khalid Al Qassimi ready for tough Greece rally
After scoring his first WRC points of the season with a ninth-place finish in Portugal last month, the UAE driver is determined to improve on that performance in Greece alongside the British co-driver Scott Martin in the Abu Dhabi Citroen Total World Rally car.
"This rally is always tough on the car and it can be damaging," said Sheikh Khalid, who is making his fifth appearance in the event, which starts tomorrow.
"The stages this time are new to me, some of them are 50 kilometres long, and the conditions will be brutal. The route is rocky and dusty, with lots of twists and turns through the mountain roads, and you have to work hard."
Despite getting off the mark with his points-scoring drive in Portugal, Sheikh Khalid was far from satisfied with his performance, or his car, and wants to deliver an improved display.
"The important thing is to get the set-up of the car right this week," he said. "With every test we are advancing in terms of getting the right balance.
"I'm looking for a better performance, and if I can avoid any problems and finish the rally, the result will come. I want to build my confidence, because I know if I drive the way I can, and enjoy myself, I can do well."
His sixth place in Greece in 2009, when he was driving a Ford, remains his second-best WRC performance, although he is hoping to have a much smoother run through the event this time.
"On the first day that year, I was almost forced to retire," he said. "On the second stage from the last the car wouldn't start, and we had to push it uphill to engage the gear and get it moving. I thought we were finished, but we managed to continue. On the last day I lost a lot of time with punctures, but in the end I drove with my head and managed to get a very good result."
Also driving for Citroen this weekend are Dani Sordo and Mikko Hirvonen, with the latter, who is third in the title standings, looking to narrow the 65-point margin by which he trails championship leader Sebastien Ogier, the Volkswagen driver.
DRIVERS' STANDINGS - TOP SIX
Through five of 13 events
Place driver, team, points
1 S Ogier, Volkswagen, 122
2 S Loeb, Citroen, 68
3 M Hirvonen, Citroen, 57
4 J-M Latvala, Volkswagen, 49
5 M Ostberg, Ford, 38
6 T Neuville, Ford, 35
Follow us @SprtNationalUAE