Al Qasimi passes tough early test in Sardinia

WAM ABU DHABI, June 21st, 2013 (WAM)–The UAE’s Sheikh Khalid Al Qasimi took a cautious approach to a demanding first leg in the Rally d’ItaliaSardegna today to maintain his hopes of a top-ten finish in the seventh round of this year’s FIA World Rally Championship.

Partnered by British co-driver Scott Martin in his Abu Dhabi Citroen Total World Rally Team DS3 WRC, the Emirati driver held 12th position after negotiating the first loop of three special stages along Sardinia’s treacherously narrow, rocky mountain roads.

Forced to start first after the previous day’s qualifying stage, Al Qasimi found himself with the unenviable task of sweeping the road, and remained faithful to his plan to avoid risks while regaining confidence after last month’s crash in Greece.

“It’s very difficult because there’s such a lot of loose gravel, there are no lines to follow from other cars and no braking points to see,” he said at the service regrouping”, adding that “I just decided from the start that I would not push all, just drive at a good pace and not take any risks. I think it’s a good approach because, although I’m losing some time at the moment, I’m avoiding any problems.

Al Qasimi noted, “The stages are difficult. You can’t slide the car around the corners because they’re so narrow and there’s a lot of rocks on the inside and outside, and you can easily damage the car. I’m feeling quite relaxed. I’m not attacking yet. There’s a long way to go today, with night stages to come, and it will be midnight before we finish so a lot can happen.” Apart from a loss of braking power towards the end of the first stage, Al Qasimi was happier with the performance of his Abu Dhabi Citroen DS3 in an event which claimed one major early casualty.

Russian star Evgeny Novikov, holding third place at the time, went out when he rolled his Ford Fiesta just 200 metres into the second stage, although both driver and co-driver were unhurt..

Five more stages lay ahead on the first leg, with another eight stages leading to the finish on Saturday.

WAM/MN

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