Abu Dhabi, Yas Marina Circuit, MSMhttp://www.adr.ae/
When hearing about the presence of a large amount of dunes on the next edition of the Dakar, Khalid Al Qassimi, who was born in the sands of the United Arab Emirates, smiles from ear to ear. When he was a young man, which wasn’t that long ago, he spent his weekends in a buggy or on a quad or motorcycle on his father’s farm, 250kms from Abu Dhabi. This experience should work as much in his favour at the start of the rally in Peru as the fact that he will be racing an all-new Peugeot 3008 DKR MAXI, prepared by the PH Sport team. Khalid came from traditional rally racing, having competed in 30 rounds of the WRC before his career took a new turn last year. The boss of the Abu Dhabi Racing team and partner with the prestigious Citröen team in the WRC, made his Dakar debut with the French firm’s sister brand Peugeot. It was a delicate learning experience and the complicated collaboration with veteran co-driver Pascal Maimon came to an end after stage 11, despite some encouraging results in Argentina (6th and 8th best in two stages). Al Qassimi will take on this new adventure a lot wiser and with a new co-driver, Frenchman Xavier Panseri. Well aware that he lacks experience, he would still like to “be a nice surprise”, without really declaring a specific objective.
“Everything on the Dakar was new to me. I came from the WRC, having only done a few rally-raids in a two-wheel drive buggy. It was a different world and I had a lot to learn and may challenges to take on. The co-driver lost us time every day. If not, I could have neared the Top 5. I come from the desert so I am obviously delighted to sped seven days in the dunes. I have three wishes for the Dakar. I hope it will be a nice race and no incidents for anyone. I don’t want to get lost. And finally, I would like to be the surprise of the rally. But, I know that on just one stage we can lose more than an hour. I am only the driver…My co-driver Xavier Panseri has less experience but he is calmer and so I am confident.”
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