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Sheikh Khalid Al Qassimi misses out on top Turkish finish

2004 Rally of Turkey
FIA World Rally Championship, round 7 of 16

For immediate release
Sunday, June 27th, 2004

UAE'S SHEIKH KHALID AL-QASSIMI LOSES
OUT ON TOP FINISH IN RALLY OF TURKEY

Power Horse Team delighted with progress; Frenchman Loeb wins Rally of Turkey

KEMER (Turkey): The UAE's Sheikh Khalid Al-Qassimi missed out on a top finish in the Rally of Turkey when he slid wide on a corner and damaged the suspension on his Power Horse World Rally Team Subaru Impreza WRX STi in the 10th special stage. He and Ulster co-driver Michael Orr had been lying 24th overall and an excellent second in the Group N category at the time.

Al-Qassimi had spent the opening nine special stages embroiled in a fascinating tussle for Group N supremacy with the highly-rated Turkish driver Hakan Dinc, despite collecting one flat tyre at the start of the second leg and running in the dust of slower cars over the later sections. But what could have been a sensational result turned to disappointment in the 10th stage.

~I began the rally at the pace I had been in at the end of the rally in Greece recently and was pushing quite hard,~ said Al-Qassimi. ~Then we slid a little too wide on one particular corner in stage 10 and clouted a banking. The impact damaged the suspension and the front arm and we limped out of the stage. We tried to repair the damage at the end of the section and started the much longer 11th stage. But the car was finished by now and we weren't able to continue any further.

~I am disappointed, but we have made real progress. Hakan Dinc is one of the top drivers in Turkey and he told me he had been very impressed with my driving and our performance in general. It was really enjoyable. I had an on-board camera in the car and I will go away and look at the footage and see where I made a mistake and where I can improve on other rallies in the future.~

At the head of the field Citroen's Sebastien Loeb and Finland's Marcus Gronholm had been locked in a thrilling battle for two days, with Gronholm eventually losing out to his young French rival by 26.2 seconds over the closing stages. Loeb now has a clear lead in the FIA World Rally Championship for Drivers' after his first Turkish win.

Defending World Champion Petter Solberg finished a distant third overall in his Subaru Impreza and last year's Rally of Turkey winner Carlos Sainz completed the 17 gravel special stages in fourth position in the second Citroen Xsara. Ford's Francois Duval and Subaru's Mikka Hirvonen completed the top six at the finish in Kemer and Hakan Dinc won the Group N section in his Subaru.

The roads on the final two legs were drier than the opening day, as the heat reached levels unmatched on a WRC anywhere other than in Kenya in recent years. Ground temperatures of 47C and air temperatures of 35C were recorded in the mountains, providing the toughest of tests for drivers, cars and tyres.

Sunday's final leg was the shortest of the three, covering just 77.90 kms of competition. After leaving Kemer at 06.30 hrs, drivers tackled two loops of two identical speed tests before returning for the finish at 14.31 hrs. Both stages had been unused so far this year and the second on each loop was new to the rally.

Sheikh Khalid and the entire Power Horse World Rally Team left Turkey bound for Lebanon on Sunday afternoon to begin their preparations for the Rally of Lebanon, the next all-asphalt round of the FIA Middle East Rally Championship, which starts on Friday in Jounieh.

Ends

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Date issued: 27/06/2004

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