Khalid Al Qasimi Sings Meeke’s Praises

Dubai: Northern Ireland’s Kris Meeke has the ability to revive Citroen and Abu Dhabi Racing’s FIA World Rally Championship chances, according to Shaikh Khalid Al Qasimi.

Nominated by Al Qasimi to drive his Abu Dhabi Citroen Total DS3 in last week’s eighth round of the WRC series in Finland, Meeke was fifth before crashing out near the end of the penultimate stage.

Despite the setback, Al Qasimi says Meeke should be given other chances in the WRC, where results this season have been disappointing for the partnership between Abu Dhabi Racing and eight-time champion manufacturers, Citroen, who are currently 55 points behind leaders Volkswagen.

Making his first appearance in the WRC for more than 18 months, Meeke closely tracked teammate Mikko Hirvonen in Rally Finland while completely outpacing Spain’s Dani Sordo in the other Citroen Total Abu Dhabi DS3. “He did an excellent job and I wasn’t surprised,” said Al Qasimi.

“He was up there with Mikko and much quicker than Dani, and he’s given us a lot to think about. Our first priority is to get the best we can out of our drivers for the rest of the season, and we need to be on the podium. But already we’re looking ahead to next season, and Kris could get more chances.

“He’s a very good driver, that’s why we picked him. We considered several drivers, but decided Kris would be the best choice and he proved us right. It was just unfortunate that he didn’t get the finish he deserved. I really felt for him, especially as I rolled in the same car in the Acropolis Rally.”

Al Qasimi is now fully focused on his own return to WRC action in Rallye Deutschland from 23 to 25 August. He’ll be looking to beat his previous best round of the season — a ninth placed finish in Portugal — while hoping for similar improved performances from Hirvonen and Sordo who finished fourth and fifth in Finland.

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