Dakar: Sheikh Khalid bin Faisal Al Qassimi gears up for 40th edition of the historic Dakar Rally
ABU DHABI, (UAE): Abu Dhabi Racing driver and Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge winner, Sheikh Khalid bin Faisal Al Qassimi is gearing up for the 40th edition of the historic Dakar Rally, which will run from January 6-20, 2018, through three countries in South America – Peru, Bolivia and Argentina.
With Xavier Panseri as his co-driver, Sheikh Khalid will be behind the wheel of a Peugeot 3008 DKR Maxi run by PH Sport. This is the second time the pair have teamed up, with Panseri, co-drove for Sheikh Khalid in Rally Morocco last year.
The Dakar 2018 will feature seven off road stages made up of 100% dunes! The rally set over 9,000 km, of which nearly 5,000 km will be special stages and over 4000 km of road sections..
In its 40th edition, the Dakar Rally 2018 will take place on the South American continent for the 10th time. The drivers will be reacquainting itself with the Pacific Ocean and the Peruvian dunes, which the riders and drivers will tackle after having enjoyed several days in the capital, Lima.
The race continues on to Bolivia, where the rest day will take place in the capital city, La Paz. From there the race moves to Argentina, concluding in Córdoba, which will host the finish of the Dakar for the first time.
Sheikh Khalid said: “Dakar was a completely new experience for me and for the team and even driving the car, which is a buggy-style rather than a four-wheel drive.”
“Last year we faced a number of obstacles and unfortunately we had a major problem on the penultimate day where we could have been at least in the top 10.. A major problem last year was losing too much time as a result of getting lost. Of course you expect to get lost occasionally but in the last Dakar Rally we lost a lot of time by getting lost everyday due to navigation.”
“I am starting with a new co-driver [Xavier Panseri] for Dakar 2018. I have experience with him following tests in Rally Morocco last year and I feel he has the potential. I think Xavier has good experience which he can pass on to me and this will be crucial for both of us in the Dakar Rally. It will be a challenge and I am looking forward to it.
“What also made me want to compete in Dakar again is that the route has been changed from Dakar 2017 where we drove on terrain which was difficult for buggy cars.
“Dakar 2018 will consist of 6-7 days of dunes, especially the first part of the rally, which will be in Peru. I was born in the desert so I have a decent experience driving here which I will try to use to my advantage but the South American dunes are of a different kind as compared to our dunes here in the UAE.
“I will try to read the sands as best I can but I am used to driving in four-wheel drive vehicles in the desert and the two wheeled vehicles of Dakar require a different approach and driving style.
“I think the biggest challenge will be on the narrower routes as the maxi is a big wide car so we might struggle. We might lose some time as a result, but at the end of the day it is part of the challenge and we will see how it goes.
“We will put a good strategy in place for the race because we have a new car, new routes and a new co-driver. But hopefully, we will complete the challenge safely and in a good result.”
In 2017, Al Qassimi’s Dakar Rally debut came to a sudden and premature end with just one day to go following a technical snag on stage 11 from San Juan to Rio Cuarto which comprised of a total distance of 759km, of which 288km were competitive. At the time of his unfortunate retirement mid-way through the stage, Sheikh Khalid was in 9th position and looking to improve upon his 10th overall in the classifications going into the final day.
A competition of extremes and an orienteering race, the Dakar brings together the leading rally raid riders and drivers, as well as amateur competitors who come to fulfil their dream, experience an adventure and meet the biggest challenge of their life on a bike, on a quad, in a car or in a truck. Over the last 40 years, each year 500 participants from more than 60 nationalities have come together for 15 days of a unique competition on which extraordinary feats of human endeavour are played out.