Dakar: Sheikh Khalid Al Qassimi 7th overall at stage 10 with 4 more stages to go
BELÉN (Argentina): Abu Dhabi Racing and Peugeot Middle East official driver Sheikh Khalid bin Faisal Al Qassimi, behind the wheel of a 3008 DKR Maxi, with co-driver Xavier Panseri, moved up to 7th overall after finishing 4th on Stage 10, the Salta-Belén section in Argentina, which comprised of a total distance of 797km, with 373km of special section.
Stage 9 had to be cancelled for safety reasons as organisers did not want to take any risks because of persistent thunderstorms and flooding due to rising river waters.
The Abu Dhabi Racing and Peugeot Middle East official driver, was inside the top five throughout the stage and did a brilliant job for an excellent result at the end of the day to stay inside the top 10 contenders overall.
The challenge for the Abu Dhabi Racing driver was negotiating the narrow tracks in the canyons, but Sheikh Khalid eventually tackled the section to come up with an excellent result at the end of the day.
Sheikh Khalid said: “We started the day with two sections to tackle. At about 70km we caught the car ahead of us and when we came to the rios it was quite narrow, so navigation was difficult.
“We found a track which was part of the road-book and we drove about 9km and realised we had missed the track far away from the waypoint. We had to go back so we lost what we gained.
“Then I pushed hard in the second section where I finished 4th overall. It was a good feel for me today although it was rough and difficult.
“Tomorrow (stage 11) will be a very difficult day. It will feature lots of dunes but also vegetation. Smart crews will get the navigation points right, but again as I said it will be a difficult day.”
Up next is Stage 11: Belén – Chilecito (747 km)
If the weather is particularly hot, reducing the firmness of the sand, this will be one of the toughest spots in Argentina… and potentially the place where a racer in good shape will be able to shine. As in 2016, the previous day’s special stage times will define the starting order, with a mix of bikes, cars and trucks for the 25 fastest finishers.
The 40th edition of the Dakar Rally on the South American continent is taking place for the tenth time.