Sheikh Khalid Al Qassimi has warned up nicely for this month end’s final round of the FIA Middle East Rally Championship (MERC), the Dubai International Rally, by sealing a second podium in as many weeks.
The Abu Dhabi Racing driver yesterday finished second overall at Rally Oman, the trial event for inclusion in the MERC from 2015, two weeks after winning a similar event held in Abu Dhabi. In between, the Abu Dhabi native also competed in his final WRC campaign of the season in Spain.
In Oman, Sheikh Khalid led a five-car ADR team and was set to clinch the title, but a broken front right drive shaft on Friday morning meant he lost precious time and got relegated to second, two minutes 22 seconds behind Abdulaziz Al Kuwari of Qatar.
However, Sheikh Khalid returned with a vengeance yesterday and won all five stages, clawing back 34.5sec to eventually reduce the gap to one minute 28.1sec and secure second overall.
Speaking after the podium ceremony, Sheikh Khalid said: “I love the Oman rally; I won here in 2007 and was hoping for a repeat performance. Unfortunately, the broken front right drive shaft of my DS3 took away the advantage I had built.
“That said, I am extremely pleased with our junior drivers who have done an excellent job of staying inside the top ten.”
ADR junior drivers Mohamed Al Mutawaa (class winner and 4th overall), Saeed Bintouq, Mansoor Belhelei and Juma Al Falasi finished the rally in 6th, 7th and 8th respectively.
Sheikh Khalid is now looking forward to the Dubai International Rally, where he must win if he is to secure a second regional title, after first winning the trophy in 2004 behind the wheel of a Subaru Impreza WRX STI; exactly 10 years ago.
The ADR driver is six points adrift of leader Nasser Al Attiyah (75) and only an outright win will assure him a second regional title when the Dubai event is held from November 27-29. Al Attiyah though is eyeing his 10th regional crown.
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