Sheikh Khalid Al Qassimi insists he’s still has a lot to learn before even thinking about winning more races in the FIA Cross Country Rally World Cup after his maiden triumph in the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge.
The Abu Dhabi Racing chairman became the first Emirati to win the event on Thursday since Mohammed Mattar won the two non-championship races way back in 1991 and 1992.
Al Qassimi entered the final leg of the race 1hr, 46mins and 03 seconds adrift of leader and defending champion Nasser Al Attiyah. It was the Qatari’s to lose but the former Dakar Rally champion rolled his Overdrive Racing Toyota Hilux heavily before the opening passage control.
He was later forced to retire, allowing Al Qassimi to win by 41 minutes and 26 seconds.
The result saw Al Qassimi go top of the overall FIA World Cup standings with a 33-point lead ahead of Qatar’s Mohammed Abu Issa.
The Emirati was certainly thrilled but remains cautious he’s still finding his feet in cross-country rallying.
“The results are important but more importantly for me is to continue learning in this format of rallies,” he told Sport360°.
“The learning experience didn’t stop at winning the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge and I still have a lot to learn. Yes we did our best and won and we will keep going with same pace and momentum.”
While he admits he may have to rethink his plans of competing for the remainder of the championship, Al Qassimi, who made his Dakar Rally debut this year, was proud to fly the UAE flag high on home soil.
“We are from from Abu Dhabi and our team is Abu Dhabi Racing and so to win the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge was a win-win for everyone,” he said. “We are so so proud of this achievement especially as we were competing in a Peugeot 3008 DKR which is a rear wheel drive.”
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