Young Emirati drivers get big chance on world stage
Young Emirati drivers Mohammed Al Mutawaa and Mohammed Al Sahlawi are to be given invaluable experience in this yearís World Rally Championship by Abu Dhabi Racing and CitroŽn.
Al Mutawaa will take part in the ninth round of the WRC series in Germany this weekend, while both he and Al Sahlawi will contest Octoberís penultimate round of the championship in Spain.
The pair are relishing the early chance to compete on the world stage through the partnership between Abu Dhabi Racing and eight-times WRC manufacturers champions, CitroŽn Racing.
ďThis is part of our mission to provide many more opportunities for young Emirati drivers in international motor sport,Ē said Sheikh Khalid Al Qassimi, who engineered the five-year collaboration with CitroŽn.
Al Mutawaa and Al Sahlawi came through an intense three-day selection programme in the UAE capital last November to earn their places in the five-car Abu Dhabi Racing team for this yearís FIA Middle East Rally Championship.
Driving identical CitroŽn DS3 R3 2WDs, they have received early promotion to the WRC after uncertainty over two rounds in this yearís Middle East series resulted in Abu Dhabi Racing having to change its plans for the season.
For logistical reasons, the team is forced to miss next monthís Rally of Lebanon and restrict their challenge in Novemberís penultimate round in Cyprus to one car, driven by Al Qassimi.
ďBecause of the size of the operation to get all the cars, support vehicles and spare parts to Lebanon, we had to make an early decision on whether to compete,Ē explained Sheikh Khalid.
ďWhen the cut-off point came, there were still doubts about whether the rally would go ahead as scheduled, so our hand was forced.
ďDoubts over the Cyprus Rally created more logistical problems, and the best solution was to give the two young guys some WRC experience, although it wasnít possible to get both their cars to Germany. But they have a great opportunity and must make the most of it.Ē
After a two-month gap, Al Qassimi makes his return to WRC action with British co-driver Scott Martin in his Abu Dhabi CitroŽn Total DS3 when Rallye Deutschland starts on Thursday.
Al Mutawaa links up with his regular co-driver, Stephen McAuley, in Germany while Al Sahlawi will be joined by Allan Harryman for the Rally De Espana.
The Rally of Lebanon, fourth round of the Middle East Championship, is now due to go ahead on 6-8 September while the Cyprus Rally has been re-scheduled for 12-13 October.