Khaled Al Qassimi BP Ford finishes Greece WRC event
A stunning drive from Sheikh Khaled Al Qassimi and his co-driver Michael Orr was rewarded at the Acropolis Rally of Greece with their best ever finish in a WRC event. Sixth place for the Emirati ace is a remarkable achievement for someone who is only competing in his second WRC season.
The dramatic rally witnessed an astonishing performance overall by the whole BP Ford Abu Dhabi World Rally Team who registered their 70th world rally victory, with Mikko Hirvonen taking the win. The perfect weekend was rounded off in style with a further podium place for BP Ford Abu Dhabi driver Jari-Matti Latvala who finished in third despite having crashed his car on day one.
UAE-based Al Qassimi’s sixth place is his best finish in WRC and earns him three Championship points, doubling his total for the year. He moves up to 11th position in the 2009 drivers’ classifications. The first and third places for the BP Ford Abu Dhabi team blow the WRC Drivers’ Championships wide open, with Mikko Hirvonen moving to within seven points of Championship leader Sebastian Loeb of Citroen. The BP Ford Abu Dhabi team are now within 15 points of Citroen in the Manufacturers Championship. There is everything to play for now as the team’s head to Poland in two weeks time.
Al Qassimi began day three in seventh place overall, moving up to sixth when Citroen Junior driver Evgeny Novikov suffered mechanical problems in the morning and rapidly lost time to move down the field. Controlled aggression from Al Qassimi saw him progress through stages 13 to 17 without any major difficulties to finish the rally in jubilation: “What an incredible rally this has been. The roads have been unbelievably tough and i can’t remember so many drivers having had problems. But we stuck at it, despite some close encounters and i am so pleased for myself, Michael, and the whole Abu Dhabi team. This result is a huge boost to the whole Abu Dhabi rally programme, and i hope it will be an inspiration for the Abu Dhabi Junior Drivers in Poland in two weeks time.”
Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority (ADTA) is behind the Abu Dhabi rally programme which includes sponsorship of the WRC, the BP Ford Abu Dhabi World Rally Team, and the Abu Dhabi Junior Driver Programme. All involved will be hoping that the other Abu Dhabi-backed motorsport teams in action this weekend will be able to emulate the spectacular success in Greece. Team Abu Dhabi are competing in the Red Bull Air Race in Windsor, Ontario and the Abu Dhabi F1 Powerboat team are also in action in Finland.