BP Ford Abu Dhabi World Rally Team, with Emirati driver Sheikh Khaled Al Qassimi, launches its 2010 FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) campaign on the snow covered trails of Rally Sweden this week.

The sub-zero temperatures of northern Scandinavia will present the ultimate contrast to Sheikh Khaled’s homeland where he’ll leave pleasant winter temperatures of 25 Celsius, but he’s determined to turn on the heat in this opening round of the WRC season.

“I am excited about the start of the season. I haven’t had the chance to get behind the wheel much over the last couple of months, so I am itching to get back into the drivers’ seat, “ commented Al Qassimi. “The most important thing is for me to keep progressing and getting better by the end of each year. I realise the conditions will be tough – but that’s part of the challenge which I relish.”

The Emirati rally ace finished the 2009 Championship in 12th place, making him the UAE’s highest ever WRC points scorer.  This accolade was hard-won by Al Qassimi, his commitment provided Team Abu Dhabi with two eighth places, and his best result to date, sixth at the Acropolis Rally.  This season will see his increased confidence being used to push for even more points, taking the Abu Dhabi name with him as he competes across the globe.

As the only snow rally in the WRC, Rally Sweden will be a true spectacle, throwing up new challenges to competitors. In contrast, Rally Abu Dhabi, Abu Dhabi’s candidate WRC event due to be staged at the end of this year, will take teams through undulating sand dunes, under the ever-present sun.

“As Rally Sweden captures the atmosphere of northern Scandinavia, so Rally Abu Dhabi will encapsulate the uniqueness of our diverse landscape and demonstrate our capacity to successfully stage major international events,” commented Ahmed Hussein, Deputy Director General, ADTA - which is behind the Abu Dhabi World Rally Programme and is the WRC’s destination partner. “Rally Sweden is a major milestone in our motor sport year. It is hugely important for the team, and for Khaled, and we are confident their campaign, and ours, will get off to a tremendous start in Karlstad.”

Rally Sweden takes place 12-14 February.

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