Dakar: Abu Dhabi Racing’s Sheikh Khalid Al Qassimi sets good pace despite waypoint error
LIMA, (Peru): 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, made steady progress on Day 2 of the 2018 edition of the Dakar Rally finishing in 11th position, and 11th overall just 3min away from P10 (from P25 up into P11), and now looking to improve on that as the marathon rally continues into the next leg.
The Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge winner had a balanced start to his 2018 Dakar Rally campaign on Day 1, but a lost way-point cost him about two minutes.
Under new regulations, drivers are now not permitted to carry maps in any form (paper, electronic or any other type of support) so crews must therefore rely solely on the roadbook and the GPS system provided by the organisers. Sheikh Khalid has, however, adjusted to this rule change and looks forward to improving on his times in the days ahead.
Al Qassimi said: “We started the day on a cautious note as there was an accident ahead of us, but we caught up with the cars ahead of us in less than 20km. Anyway we reached the dunes and I started having a nice balance. But on the big dunes it was really difficult yet we still caught up we a few more cars.
“It was, however, getting a bit difficult as I could not climb some of the big dunes. After crossing the big dunes I made good progress but suddenly got stuck, though not for a long time because I deflated the tyres. So I lost about a minute.
“We then saw that there was an accident ahead of us so I backed off a little as there were some blind sections ahead maybe for some 30km or so, then I decided to push again and got my rhythm again and started catching more cars.
“When we reached the flying finish we realised that we had missed a point and had to drive back maybe for about 9km and I noticed that cars I had passed earlier were now going ahead of me!
“The most important thing is we got to the missed point but in the process lost about five odd minutes.
“Despite this small setback, we have a good rhythm and now look to the next day.”
Next up is the Pisco-San Juan De Marcona stage (504 km). At this point, Dakar veterans will still be warming up. The day’s challenge will mainly be disputed off-piste, both across a chott and in the heart of the canyons. Bikes and quads will leave the main route for a fifteen-kilometre detour, without increasing the day’s total distance. Newcomers to the rally, some of whom will already have experienced some difficulties, will be starting to feel a little worse for wear by this stage!
The anniversary edition will run through three countries in South America – Peru, Bolivia and Argentina – and the Abu Dhabi Racing driver is aiming for a good result at the end of the annual event that attracts some of the biggest names from across the globe.
The 40th edition of the Dakar Rally will take place on the South American continent for the tenth time with drivers getting the opportunity to re-acquaint themselves with the Pacific Ocean and the Peruvian dunes, which the riders and drivers will tackle after having enjoyed several days in the Peruvian capital of Lima.