WRC Skydive Dubai Rally Team's Al-Ketbi returns to WRC action in Greece
Acropolis Rally, May 31-June 2
FIA World Rally Championship (WRC), round 6
For immediate release
Monday, May 27th, 2013
SKYDIVE DUBAI RALLY TEAM’S AL-KETBI
RETURNS TO WRC ACTION IN GREECE
· Emirati aims for top five WRC 2 finish in new Skoda Fabia S2000
· Qatar’s Abdulaziz Al-Kuwari leads WRC 2 by two points after five rounds
LOUTRAKI (Greece): Skydive Dubai Rally Team (UAE) driver Rashid Al-Ketbi returns to rallying action in the FIA World Rally Championship at this weekend’s Acropolis Rally in Greece.
Now fully recovered both physically and mentally from the frightening accident that halted his excellent progress in Portugal last month, Al-Ketbi and his German co-driver Karina Hepperle are relishing the start of one of the closest WRC rallying challenges to the conditions that the Dubai driver is used to facing in the Middle East.
Arid, dusty and rocky gravel special stages are a feature of the sixth round of the WRC in Greece and Al-Ketbi likens the stages to those he has driven across in Qatar and in the UAE. Mid-summer temperatures in Greece are also reminiscent of those found in Rashid’s native Middle East.
His Skoda Fabia S2000 was destroyed in a terrifying drop off the side of a mountain stage in Portugal, but Al-Ketbi’s team has worked hard to prepare a new Skoda for his Greek challenge and Rashid is quietly confident of success in the competitive WRC 2 category.
“I have now forgotten what happened in Portugal and moved on,” said Al-Ketbi, who will be carrying the logo of EXPO 2020 on his car to promote Dubai’s bid to host the prestigious exhibition in six years time. “We made a very hard test over the last two weeks to get the car set-up as best we could and I am quietly confident and targeting a top five finish in WRC 2. Insha’ allah, that is a realistic goal.”
The Skydive Dubai Rally Team is running in the 2013 WRC under the patronage of H.H. Sheikh Hamdan Bin Mohammed Bin Rashid Al-Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of the Dubai Sports Council, and is backing the UAE’s bid for EXPO 2020.
Qatar’s Abdulaziz Al-Kuwari is the leader of the WRC 2 category after taking maximum points in Mexico and Argentina, but Al-Ketbi has always been a competitive force on gravel stages and will be looking to close the gap on the Qatari. Al-Kuwari leads the series by two points from Peruvian driver Nicolas Fuchs, with Germany’s Sepp Wiegand in third position.
There are a total of 50 cars on the entry list, with WRC leader Sébastien Ogier topping the main list of priority drivers in his Volkswagen Polo R WRC. He and team mates Jari-Matti Latvala and Andreas Mikkelsen face a strong Citroën challenge from the likes of Mikko Hirvonen, Dani Sordo and Sheikh Khalid Al-Qassimi, while Mads Ostberg, Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah and Evgeny Novikov drive three Qatar-backed Ford Fiestas.
Al-Ketbi faces 16 fierce rivals in WRC 2, with Poland’s ex-F1 star Robert Kubica joining Al-Kuwari, Fuchs and Ukrainian Yuriy Protasov as likely front-runners. Jordan’s Ala’a Rasheed also features on the entry list.
The Acropolis is one of the most popular events in the WRC calendar and has only been out of the series for two years since the championship was established in 1973. The rally has been based at the town of Loutraki on the Gulf of Corinth since 2011.
Following a qualifying stage of 6.05km on Friday morning (May 31), teams head to the Zappion in Athens for the ceremonial start and a 47km special stage between Kineta and Pissa and a late evening special at Kineta.
Eight special stages are on offer on Saturday’s timetable with just one 30-minute service halt in 12 hours of racing at Loutraki. There are just four stages on Sunday with the competitive action drawing to a close with the 30km Loutraki stage acting as the Acropolis Power Stage, where up to three bonus points are at stake for the winner.
In a total route of 1,052.52km, there are 14 timed special stages and 306.53km of competition (29.12% of total route).
Neil Perkins, NDP Publicity Services, UK mobile: + 44 7831 123153, E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
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