Abu Dhabi returns to WRC in new partnership with record-breaking Citroen racing
- United Arab Emirates: Saturday, December 08 - 2012 at 14:08
- PRESS RELEASE
Abu Dhabi, one of seven emirates that make up the United Arab Emirates and home of the country's capital city, has agreed an historic partnership with nine-time World Rally Championship (WRC) winning manufacturer, Citroen Racing, to bolster the emirate's presence in global motorsport.
Both teams and all registered drivers in the new Citroen -Abu Dhabi stable will be eligible to score manufacturers' points.
"In Abu Dhabi, we have a long-term partner that will preserve Citroen's position at the summit of global rallying," said Yves Matton, Director of Citroen Racing and Team Principal of Citroen Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team.
"Over the last decade, the team has enjoyed monumental success. Vitally, we now have a formidable partner that shares our ambition to continue setting the pace in the WRC and international off-road motorsport."
As part of the agreement, the UAE's most successful international rally driver in terms of WRC points, Sheikh Khalid All Qassimi is back in the WRC next year. Al Qassimi will contest eight WRC rounds for Abu Dhabi Total Citroen World Rally Teamin theall-new Abu Dhabi-branded DS3 WRC, which was unveiled today at the team's international launch at Monte Carlo Beach Club Saadiyat, Abu Dhabi.
On WRC rounds where nine-time world champion, Sebastien Loeb, is participating, the legendary Frenchman will drive for Citroen Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team alongside Finland's Mikko Hirvonen, with Spain's Dani Sordojoining Al Qassimi in the Abu Dhabi Total Citroen World Rally Team. When Loeb, who is contesting a shortened schedule next season, is not in action, Sordo will pilotthe second manufacturers' points-scoring car for Citroen Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team.
Additionally, the all-new Abu Dhabi Total Citroen World Rally Team will contest the 2013 Middle East Rally Championship (MERC) - the first-time in history a full WRC works team has participated in the region's premier off-road motorsport series - with Al Qassimi scheduled to complete the series' entire calendar.
"Rallying is in Abu Dhabi's soul and this partnership reflects the vision of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, to see the emirate back at the sport's elite level," said Al Qassimi.
"It also begins a long-term relationship that we hope will foster increased Emirati participation in various global motorsport series - including off-road and circuit-based disciplines. We could not have partnered a more professional and ambitious manufacturer than Citroen," added Al Qassimi, who counts 45 WRC starts to his name and is also ADR Chairman.
Via strategic relationships with prominent Abu Dhabi-based motorsport stakeholders - including Abu Dhabi Motorsport Management (ADMM), Yas Marina Circuit and Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority (TCA Abu Dhabi) - ADR has been created to dually assist the promotion of Abu Dhabi as a world-class destination and provide the next crop of Emirati motorsport drivers with viable avenues for professional participation.
With ADR responsible for mining and developing leading domestic talent, the company's supporting partners will provide strategic assistance across a number of key areas, including infrastructure, equipment, event management, marketing, communications and international promotions. As part of the ADR-Citroen Racing agreement, TCA Abu Dhabi will undertake as many as five on-the-ground destination promotions in key source markets where WRC rounds take place.
"Abu Dhabi has a well-documented history in the WRC - a global motorsport series which has helped position the emirate in front of millions of international spectators and television viewers," said Faisal Al Sheikh, Events Manager, TCA Abu Dhabi.
"The benefits to the destination are tremendous and the emirate's WRC adventure with the great champions of Citroen will significantly enhance Abu Dhabi's footprint in the international motorsport arena."
In addition to the high-profile WRC alliance, Citroen has committed to provide a dedicated works car for Al Qassimi's MERC campaign and two additional R3MERC cars for ADR's grassroots initiatives in domestic and regional rally series. The quartet of lower-spec R3s will feature Yas Marina Circuit and ADR branding.
Over coming weeks and months, extensive testing and tutelage sessions will be conducted with scores of Emirati hopefuls, after which Al Qassimi and the ADR board - which also includes Khalid Al Qubaisi, the Porsche Supercup series driver, and Khalid Bin Shaiban, ADMM Vice Chairman - will devise a shortlist of drivers and plot the best route forward for those showing the most potential.
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