Piloting a Ford Fiesta RS WRC, the Middle East ace drove without error to claim his best finish in the world championship since he reached the sport’s highest level in 2004.
At the finish in Coffs Harbour on Sunday evening, the 35-year-old Al Qassimi said: “This is a historic day for motorsport in Abu Dhabi. My plan was to be as close to the top five as possible and I more than met my expectations. I enjoyed a clear run in difficult conditions and mixed terrain. I was extremely nervous through the final few stages because I didn't want to push and risk losing my position, but it was a sensible and mature performance.”
Al Qassimi, who was co-driven by Northern Irishman Michael Orr, has moved into 12th in the drivers’ standings with three events remaining, having scored points on three occasions so far this year. In the manufacturers’ classification, Team Abu Dhabi has climbed ahead of the FERM Power Tools World Rally Team into seventh place.
Despite the significance of Al Qassimi’s performance it wasn’t quite enough to emulate Saeed Al-Hajri’s fourth place finish on the Acropolis Rally in 1986, the best result by an Arabic driver in the world championship.