CC Abu Dhabi's Al-Qassimi joins Overdrive Racing for ADDC


Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge

FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Rallies, round 2
March 28-April 2, 2015

For immediate release
Wednesday, March 18th, 2015


· Overdrive to run four Toyotas for Al-Rajhi, Varela, Dabrowski and Al-Qassimi
· Quality field lines up for first long-distance FIA World Cup cross-country rally

ABU DHABI (UAE): Abu Dhabi Racing’s WRC star Sheikh Khalid Al-Qassimi will team up with Overdrive Racing to tackle the 25th Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge (ADDC), the second round of the 2015 FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Rallies. The event starts on Saturday, March 28 and finishes on Thursday, April 2, after five punishing desert selective sections through the Rub Al-Khali and western region of Al-Garbia in the Arabian desert.

The 2004 FIA Middle East rally champion is making a dramatic switch from special stage rallying to competing in the Middle East’s premier off-road event for the first time with a Toyota Hilux.

Al-Qassimi drives one of four Overdrive Racing-prepared Hiluxes on one of the strongest entry lists assembled for the ADDC since it took its place in the FIA World Cup calendar for the first time in 1993. Saudi Arabian driver Yazeed Al-Rajhi, Poland’s Marek Dabrowski and Brazilian Reinaldo Varela join Al-Qassimi in three further Toyotas.

“We are delighted to welcome Sheikh Khalid to the Overdrive Racing line-up for this race, which is one of the most challenging in the FIA World Cup calendar,” said Overdrive team director Jean-Marc Fortin. “We have a strong team for this event, with Yazeed, Marek and Reinaldo and now Khalid in our fourth car.”

Al-Qassimi, who finished second overall at the opening two rounds of the 2015 Middle East rally series in Qatar and Kuwait, will be partnered by the Portuguese navigator Jose Marques for his first proper taste of cross-country style events across the towering dunes and subkhas of the Arabian desert, where midday temperatures can often climb into the high forties Centigrade.

“I am very excited to be making my debut in the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge,” said Al-Qassimi. “I like participating in international races hosted in Abu Dhabi. This will be an exciting new challenge for me personally. I am looking to gain more experience in this type of racing and see whether I will be participating in future desert rallies.”

Al-Rajhi was the revelation of the Dakar Rally in January and was lying third overall in his Overdrive Toyota before late technical trouble cost him a potential podium finish. The Saudi heads to Abu Dhabi straight from topping the entry for the Ha’il International Rally in Saudi Arabia this weekend and will be chasing outright victory with his experienced German co-driver, the 2011 Dakar winner Timo Gottschalk.

Varela and his fellow Brazilian co-driver Gustavo Gugelmin finished third of the FIA registered crews at the opening round of the FIA World Cup in northern Russia and arrive in the UAE in an ideal position to challenge for the early championship lead in their Toyota.

An on-stage accident cost Dabrowski and navigator Jacek Czachor valuable time on the Baja Russia Northern Forest event last month, but Marek scored a couple of championship points in his Team Orlen Toyota and will be determined to improve on his position in Abu Dhabi.

Overdrive Racing currently leads the FIA World Cup, courtesy of Finn Tapio Suominen’s maximum points in Russia, and the Belgian team will be hoping to continue that winning form in the UAE.

Competition will be fierce, with Qatar’s two-time Dakar winner Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah and defending FIA World Cup champion Vladimir Vasilyev, from Russia, at the top of an entry list that includes 162 competitors from 36 countries in the car, motorcycle, quad and truck categories.

The starting list also includes the likes of Dutchman Erik van Loon, Argentineans Lucio Alvarez and Orlando Terranova, Czech Miroslav Zapletal and Qatar’s Sheikh Hamed bin Eid Al-Thani.

The competitive action gets underway with a spectator stage at the Yas Marina circuit on Saturday, March 28th before the action switches to the intimidating dunes of the Arabian peninsula and a centralised bivouac at the Qasr Al Sarab desert resort.

Five selective sections and loops through the Liwa area will take centre stage from Sunday, March 29th to Thursday April 2nd and the ceremonial finish will bring proceedings to a close at the Yas Marina circuit from 4.30pm on April 2nd.

FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Rallies – positions after round 1:
1. Tapio Suominen (FIA) 30 pts
2. Vladimir Vasilyev (RUS) 21 pts
3. Reinaldo Varela (BRA) 16 pts
4. Miroslav Zapletal (CZE) 12 pts
5. Erik van Loon (NLD) 10 pts
6. Andrey Novikov (RUS) 8 pts
7. Evgeny Firsov (RUS) 6 pts
8. Denis Berezovskiy (RUS) 5 pts
9. Yuriy Sazonov (KAZ) 4 pts
10. Alexandr Kolombet (RUS) 3 pts
11. Marek Dabrowski (POL) 2 pts, etc
(Overdrive Toyota drivers in bold)


For further information: contact Jean-Marc Fortin (E-mail: jmf@overdriveracing.be), Overdrive S.A., rue de la métallurgie 37, 4530 Villers-le-Bouillet, Belgium, Tel: + 32 475 762 391. www.overdriveracing.be - Facebook group: Overdrive Racing



Date issued: 18/03/2015

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