WRC French asphalt challenge awaits Skydive's Rashid Al-Ketbi
Rallye de France-Alsace, October 3-6
FIA World Rally Championship (WRC), round 11
For immediate release
Tuesday, October 1st, 2013
FRENCH TARMAC RALLY CHALLENGE AWAITS
SKYDIVE DUBAI RALLY TEAM’S RASHID AL-KETBI
· Second outing awaits in new Ford Fiesta R5 for Emirati rally star
STRASBOURG (France): Skydive Dubai Rally Team driver Rashid Al-Ketbi and German co-driver Karina Hepperle return to rallying action this week at the Rally de France-Alsace, round 11 of this year’s FIA World Rally Championship (WRC), which starts in Strasbourg on Thursday afternoon.
Al-Ketbi switched to a new Ford Fiesta R5 at the recent Rally Deutschland and set some impressive times on his debut with the new car. Those first tarmac stages with the Ford will be vital for the Emirati WRC2 driver on this event in France, which offers a similar range of demanding asphalt-type stages through vineyards and hilly terrain.
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.
“It was fantastic to get into the new car and be competitive from the start,” said Al-Ketbi. “These stages in France will be similar and the goal is obviously to finish but also to score as many points as possible for the Skydive Dubai Rally Team. I thank H.H. Sheikh Hamdan and everyone associated with Skydive Dubai for their support and hope to achieve a top finish here in France.”
WRC2 series leader Abdulaziz Al-Kuwari of Qatar will not be taking part in this event and that opens the door for Poland’s Robert Kubica to potentially snatch the lead heading into the final two rallies of the season in Spain and Wales.
Al-Ketbi will also be looking for a top three WRC2 finish and lines up against the likes of Kubica, Welshman Elfyn Evans, Mexican Ricardo Trivino and Jordanian driver Ala’a Rasheed.
Based in outgoing world champion Sébastien Loeb’s native Alsace region, the area has hosted the event since 2010 and this event will mark the Frenchman’s final rally before announcing his retirement from the WRC.
While attention will focus on the Frenchman, his former team-mate Sébastien Ogier could well clinch his first World Championship title on Thursday evening if he wins the opening Power Stage. Further Ford, Citroën and Volkswagen drivers offer the main competition to the French duo.
The competitive distance of the 20 special stage asphalt rally has been reduced to 312.14km, although the service park and event headquarters remain at Strasbourg’s Zenith conference venue.
After a shakedown on Thursday morning (October 3), the competitive action kicks off with a super special stage near the European Parliament building, which will act as the Power Stage, where three points are on offer for the winner.
Six timed tests follow on Friday through the Bas-Rhin and Vosges areas, while Saturday will be the longest day of the event with 134.93km of special stages through the Haut-Rhin region. After several classic Alsace stages, the day draws to a close with a town centre special in Mulhouse.
There are a further six stages on Sunday, totalling just 56.58km, and the final one will take place in Loeb’s home town of Haguenau before the finish back in Strasbourg.
Neil Perkins, NDP Publicity Services, UK mobile: + 44 7831 123153, E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
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