Emirati trio out to make their mark at Sodi World Series Grand Finals

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Determined: Atef Al Barwani (l) and Abdulla Al Ali (c).

The UAE is sending a strong line-up of drivers and teams to the Sodi World Series (SWS) Grand Finals in France, scheduled to be held over the weekend.

And among the entourage are a trio of Emirati drivers – Abdulla Al Ali, Hussein Umid Ali and Atef Al Barwani.

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Since the series began at Dubai Kartdrome in 2009, Al Barwani has been the most successful driver in this form of karting in the UAE. 

Although he has previous featured at the SWS Grand Finals, the top prize has eluded him. However, the UAE driver is hoping to get the job done. “My objective for the final is of course to get the best results I can for the UAE and Dubai Kartdrome. It will be a tough contest as I will be competing with the best-of-the-best, but I feel the time is right for me,” said Al Barwani.

And compatriot Al Ali added: “My objective is to reflect the image of UAE racers, namely our morality, sportsmanship and competitiveness.”

The third Emirati driver, Umid Ali, is also fired up for the occasion, saying: “Although this is a solo sport we drivers from the UAE can work together to ensure that we are well represented on the grid when the Super Finals take place.”

Kartdrome assistant manager David Bright said: “The SWS Grand Finals will be tough. There are no guarantees, but we have a very strong line-up of UAE-based drivers and teams fighting for top honours. I know that the team spirit is strong, so all the elements are in place for a good showing in Paris.”

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Sheikh Khalid Al Qassimi upbeat on World Rally Championship title

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Future is promising: Sheikh Khalid looks ahead to the final round of the WRC.

Citroen Total Abu Dhabi WRT driver Sheikh Khalid Al Qassimi has vowed to fight for the team title to the very last round of the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) despite being 43 points adrift of leaders Volkswagen.

Speaking to Sport360 following Citroen’s debut of its updated DS 3 WRC at Rally Portugal, Sheikh Khalid sounded upbeat about the remainder of the season.

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Asked if it was realistically possible for Citroen to challenge for first place in the team championship with eight rounds to go, Sheikh Khalid said: “Yes, it is possible and we will keep on fighting till the end.”

Citroen have won the title eight times when Sebastien Loeb dominated the WRC between 2003-12, but the Frenchman’s departure has seen the French marquee struggling.

In Portugal, Kris Meeke and Mads Ostberg finished fourth and seventh respectively, and Sheikh Khalid said: “For Citroen Total Abu Dhabi WRT in general it was a good rally as we completed the event and gained valuable points to strengthen our second position in the championship.”

The Abu Dhabi native swapped his Citroen RRC regulation car for the updated DS 3 WRC and is happy with the car, saying: “The car was very competitive and we saw that with Kris and Mads. The updates are a very good step and there is more to come.”

Sheikh Khalid though conceded that the team had encountered some issues with the car on the brand-new Portugal stages, but said it is not something to be unduly worried about.

“I think we should look at the positive side of the story. Kris and Mads were very competitive even when they faced some issues with their cars towards the end of the rally."

Rally Italia Sardegna, round six of the championship, takes place from June 11-14.

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ICA sets date for hearing Al Attiyah's AD Desert Challenge appeal

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Appealling: Al Attiyah.

The FIA’s International Court of Appeal (ICA) has listed an application filed by Sven Quandt on behalf of Nasser Al Attiyah challenging the Qatari’s exclusion from results of the 2015 Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge for hearing on June 5 next month.

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The Challenge was the second round of the ongoing FIA World Cup for Cross Country Rallies and was held from March 26-April 2. Al Attiyah, who is currently second overall in the championship, had competed in the eight-day, 2,000km event in an ALL4 Mini prepared by Quandt’s X-raid Team and had led for most part of the Challenge, eventually winning the endurance.

However, following post-race scrutineering, stewards appointed by the FIA ruled that Al Attiyah had infringed upon the rules after noticing that the “suspension-travel” of the Mini “was too big” and did not conform with the rally regulations.

Following a meeting, the stewards ruled that Al Attiyah had contravened the rally regulations as stipulated by the FIA and informed the Qatari that he had been excluded from the final results.

The three stewards were Fred Gallagher (GBR) as chairman, FIA steward Manjeev Singh Bhalla (IND) and local ASN steward Adel Sarris (UAE).

The decision of the stewards came as a huge blow for the Qatari because it meant Al Attiyah would no longer score double the points, 60, that were on offer, which would have catapulted him to the top of the championship standings and place him in contention for a second World Cup title. Al Attiyah had won the prestigious championship first in 2008 behind the wheel of a BMW.

After Al Attiyah was excluded from the results, the win was automatically handed over to Russian Vladimir Vasilyev, the current leader of the championship, while Erik Van Loon of the Netherlands was promoted to third.

The Qatari then informed the stewards that he would be filing an appeal before the FIA’s ICA given that the Challenge is an international event and that the ICA was the proper forum to address his grievances.

As required under the rules, Quandt, who is X-raid Team director, filed an application on behalf of Al Attiyah before the ICA within 96 hours, on April 6. Al Attiyah was required to pay a deposit of €6,000 (Dh24,252) at the time of filing the appeal, and should the court find his application to be frivolous, the Qatari faces a fine of up to €150,000 (Dhs606,300).

While the ICA has notified the date of the hearing, which will take place at 09:30 on June 5 in Paris, the court has not disclosed the names of the three-member panel that will deal with the application.

Of the three members, one will be nominated as ‘President of the Hearing’, and any decision will be by simple majority. In the event the decision is tied, the ‘President of the Hearing’ will exercise his vote.

The ICA comprises of 24 members elected for a period of three years. Of these, one is president, one is vice president and the remaining 22 are members.

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