posted on 10/10/2012: 477 views
Sheikh Khalid Al Qassimi returns to action in the region with an unbranded car at the Jordan International Rally, round four of the FIA Middle East Championship Rally (MERC), to get in the groove after nearly a year out of the sport.
Sheikh Khalid, who recently formed Abu Dhabi Racing (ADR), has won the MERC title in 2004, but thereafter went on to compete in the FIA World Rally Championship driving for Ford Abu Dhabi WRT.
However, after Abu Dhabi decided to pull out of the WRC at the end of the 2011 season, Sheikh Khalid's career was in a limbo, until his company, ADR, signed a five-year deal with Citroen Racing to field three cars at the WRC from the 2013 season.
Sport360° had last week exclusively revealed ADR's formation and the deal with Citroen, and Sheikh Khalid's return to the WRC with the first round in Monaco in January 2013.
At the Jordan International Rally, Sheikh Khalid would not be looking for points, but will instead concentrate on getting back in the groove after undergoing surgery last December for a troublesome knee and a back ailment.
Sheikh Khalid had told Sport360° last week that he is still recovering from the surgery, but said: "I think I am fine now to drive. I want to test myself in Jordan.”
The Abu Dhabi-based driver said that while in Jordan he would drive an unbranded car, a Ford Fiesta S2000 with Briton Marshall Clarke as co-driver, and hopes to be back in full form in time to challenge at the penultimate round of the MERC, the Dubai International Rally from November 29-December 1.
The Jordan rally will actually prove to be a big test for Sheikh Khalid because he will race against two formidable rivals – Qatar's Nasser Al Attiyah and Saudi Arabia's Yazeed Al Rajhi.
Both Al Attiyah and Al Rajhi also currently drive in the WRC, the former going off the road at the last round of the FIA championship in France where two spectators were injured.
Abdulaziz Al Kuwari currently leads the championship with 40 points after the third round in Syria was cancelled due to ongoing political turmoil in that country.
Misfir Al Marri sits in second with 37 points followed by Roger Fegali in third with 25 points. However, Sheikh Khalid's return to the MERC has rekindled new interest in the regional championship because it renews his age-old rivalry with Qatar's Al Attiyah.
Action gets under way on Thursday with the prologue and ends on Saturday afternoon. – Sport 360°
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