Saudi driver Rakan Al Rashed says local knowledge gained during the previous race will stand him in good stead for the fourth round of the WRC 2 championship, starting May 19.
Gulf Today, Staff Reporter
Saudi professional rally driver Rakan Al Rashed hopes his recent participation in the local Rali Terras D’Aboboreira series will prepare him for next month’s WRC 2 Rally de Portugal race.
The 32-year-old, who is also a successful business professional and entrepreneur, used the local series event as an acclimatisation experience, expecting that the priceless on-ground local knowledge gained during the race will stand him in good stead for the fourth round of the WRC 2 championship, starting May 19.
“It was challenging since it was my first time in Portugal,” said Rashed.
“Although the rally was held in the same area that we will be racing in for the WRC Rally de Portugal and so it was essential for us to participate to get a taste of what we will be facing next month.”
“The experience also helped me get into the groove since staying idle for too long will get me out of racing shape and, with another important championship round coming up, it is crucial that I get back on track.”
Despite being matched against local drivers with more experience of the terrain, he felt that the experience was definitely worthwhile and that he was still competitive.
Held during the Holy Month of Ramadan, during the race he had to break his fast due to the physical strain of competing in the extremely hot temperatures.
“It was very hot and my body was losing a lot of water, especially with all the equipment I was wearing such as the tracksuit, the gloves and the helmet. It was essential that I kept hydrated in such an environment for my own safety,” he explains.
Rashed added that he and his private team of seven support staff will be looking to use the lessons learned from the post-race debrief to improve their performance as the season progresses.
He said: “One of the few things that the team and I have identified, and need some improvement on, are our pace notes. In tracks that include consecutive corners, each with different characteristics, we need to include more detail on how we note them down since there are several approaches to the different types and styles of corners and it surely is a game changer once you know what is about to come up in more detail.”
The constant self-critical process of improvement will, he believes, build the solid foundation that he will leverage to climb up the WRC 2 rankings.
“The competition is stronger than ever and my level of experience does not enable me to get to the top 5 just yet. However, I do plan to participate more and get more races under my belt in the next couple of years, before I can slowly continue my ascent up the ladder to regularly place among the top five,” said Rashed, who began his motorsport career at the 2015 Middle East Rally Championship in Dubai.
Alongside his rally motorsport career, Al Rashed is also a co-founder and director of Access Bridge Ventures, a leading early stage venture capital fund and chairman of Kudu Corp, a leading restaurant chain in Saudi Arabia.
The Rally de Portugal will take place between May 19-21.