Sheikh Khalid Al Qassimi aims for Turkish delight
2004 Rally of Turkey
FIA World Rally Championship, round 7 of 16
For immediate release
Tuesday, June 22nd, 2004
UAE'S SHEIKH KHALID AL-QASSIMI
AIMS FOR TURKISH DELIGHT IN WRC RALLY
Power Horse Team driver lines up in Turkey; Frenchman Loeb leads the way
DUBAI (UAE): The UAE's Sheikh Khalid Al-Qassimi heads to southern Turkey this weekend to tackle the Rally of Turkey, his second FIA World Rally Championship outing in the Power Horse World Rally Team Subaru Impreza WRX Sti. The event begins with a timed spectator stage on Thursday (June 24th).
Khalid and Ulster co-driver Michael Orr are the current leaders of the FIA Middle East Rally Championship, but have an extended programme of events this season to enable Khalid to gain as much experience as possible in international rallies. He finished his first ever WRC event in Greece earlier this month in an excellent 20th overall and fourth in the Group N category, in addition to setting three fastest Group N stage times on the final leg against world class opposition.
But the gravel roads of Turkey offer an altogether different challenge and Khalid accepts that a repeat result is a realisitc aim. ~I enjoyed the Greek experience immensely,~ said Khalid. ~I know now that I have a competitive pace in the Group N category and can look ahead to Turkey with the joint aim of reaching the finish, but also trying to win some stages.
~It won't be easy, but I am used to extreme temperatures from my rallies in the Middle East and it will be exciting to line up alongside the likes of Sebastien Loeb and Marcus Gronholm again.~
In addition to an impressive line up of Group N drivers, Khalid faces the might of the Ford, Subaru, Peugeot, Citroen and Mitsubishi works teams, with WRC leader Sebastien Loeb, from France, leading the way in his Citroen Xsara.
The Rally of Turkey became a round of the FIA World Rally Championship for the first time last season, but this year's event is the last episode in a trilogy of hot weather, rough WRC road events in the eastern Mediterranean and the combination of baking temperatures and rock-strewn gravel tracks will place high demands on both cars and drivers.
Last year's rally, which was won by Spaniard Carlos Sainz in a Citroen Xsara, was held in early March when the region was emerging from severe winter storms that devastated the mountain roads. Conditions will be totally different this year when the event will be in the height of summer with temperatures in the coastal resort and rally base of Kemer currently at 35°C.
Temperatures in the Anatolian mountains will not be as high as the three days of speed tests are held at an average altitude of close to 1200 metres. But the twisty, and in many places, steep roads will ensure relatively slow average speeds which provide little airflow to cool hard-working engines and transmissions.
The holiday resort of Kemer, 40 kms south of the larger city of Antalya, is again the base of the rally and where the single service park will be located. However, Thursday night's start and crowd-pleasing 'super special' stage are both located in Antalya. This year's stage is at a new venue at the university and the 2.50 kms test, where two cars race side by side, is repeated again at the end of Friday's opening leg.
The remainder of the 383.33 kms of competition is based on rough gravel roads high in the Anatolian mountains, west of Kemer. The stages use essentially the same roads as last year. However, there are three new tests and eight of the 17 stages will be repeated. The second leg is the longest of the event, totalling 153.60km of action and draws to a conclusion on Sunday afternoon.
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