Four rounds into his maiden WRC season, the Qatari heads the WRC-2 standings by nine points after wins in Argentina and Mexico and, most recently, a podium at the Acropolis Rally.
But with the competition likely to intensify in the second half of the season, which features the most popular European-based rallies and the arrival of the first R5 specification cars, Al-Kuwari is keen to make his lead in the standings more comfortable.
“This is our first time in WRC-2, and our plan at the start of the year was top five, now we’re leading the championship with two wins from four rallies, it’s like a dream,” Al-Kuwari told wrc.com.
“But from Finland the big competition will arrive. Many drivers are waiting for the R5 cars, and Esapekka Lappi will return keen to do well on his home rally. So I’m motivated to do well here.
“I was pleasantly surprised by what I saw of the stages on the recce. Some of the roads on Saturday reminded me of the roads in Jordan. I’d never say I’m coming to win but let’s say a podium would be really good.”
On his first appearance in Sardinia, Al-Kuwari will go up against 15 other WRC-2 entries. He is anticipating tough competition from amongst others ex Formula 1 driver Robert Kubica, the WRC-2 winner at the Acropolis, and Skoda S2000 driver Sepp Wiegand who won in Monte Carlo.
“Kubica I’m sure will be fast here if everything goes okay, and Wiegand too – he was right on Lappi’s pace in Portugal,“ he said. “Yuriy Protasov got the better of us in Greece so we’re also expecting him to be a threat here too.”
To help him fend off his rivals, Al–Kuwari received some expert driver coaching from former Finnish and British rally champion Tapio Laukkanen, who joined him at a pre-event test in Sardinia on Monday.
“Tapio rode in the co-driver’s seat to give me his advice and point out where I could be faster,” he said. “The road cut up pretty quickly, so we only did about 35km, but the experience was really useful and I'm sure his input will help me improve.
“Acropolis was only my sixth WRC rally and it was my fastest yet, so I know I’m learning all the time. I hope the competition this weekend will enable me to take another step forward.”