Sheikh Khalid Al Qassimi is counting on a new power boost to aid his victory quest through unfamiliar territory in next month’s Kuwait International Rally – the second round of the FIA Middle East Rally Championship.

Returning to Kuwait for the first time since winning the event three years ago, the UAE driver leads a five-car Abu Dhabi Racing challenge in the Northern Gulf event – running March 21-23 – and is eyeing a victory to reinforce his bid for a second regional title.

Based in the country’s southern sand flats, the Kuwaiti rally route – which moved from its traditional home in the north last year – will see Al Qassimi negotiate the race’s special stages for the first time.

Buoyed by a rebuilt Abu Dhabi Citroën Total World Rally Team DS3 RRC, Al Qassimi is ready to push Al Attiyah all the way and maintained his recent World Rally Championship outing in Sweden could provide a timely bonus.

Khalid-Al-Qassimi

“I spent some time in Sweden with the top Citroën engineers who had been studying video of the car from the Qatar Rally,” said Al Qassimi. “It was obvious that the car is very strong. But we felt there were a few things that could be done to the chassis to improve the balance, gain more traction and make it a little faster.”

“It will be good to have some extra speed in Kuwait, especially as I don’t know the stages there and will have little time to get to know them,” he added.

“When I won in 2010 the route was in the north and it was one of the best Middle East rallies I’ve ever driven. The organisers had done a great job in grading the tracks and making the stages very clearly defined.

Al Qassimi will test the rebuilt Abu Dhabi Citroën DS3 RRC two days before the Kuwait Rally gets under way as Abu Dhabi Racing, the major new force in the Middle East Championship this season, looks for another strong showing from its four young Emirati drivers.