RIYADH: Saudi professional rally driver Rakan Al-Rashed is confident his recent participation in the local Rali Terras D’Aboboreira series will help prepare him for next month’s WRC 2 Rally de Portugal race.
The 32-year-old, who is also a successful business entrepreneur, used the local series event as an acclimatization experience in the belief that the on-ground local knowledge gained during the race will stand him in good stead for the fourth round of the WRC 2 championship starting on May 19.
“It was challenging since it was my first time in Portugal,” Al-Rashed said.
But since the race was held in the same area planned for the WRC Rally de Portugal, “it was essential for us to participate to get a taste of what we will be facing next month,” he added.
“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, Al-Rashed believes the experience was worthwhile and is was still competitive.
With the race held during Ramadan, he had to break his fast due to the physical strain of competing in extremely hot temperatures.
“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 said.
Al-Rashed 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.
“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,” he said.
Al-Rashed, who began his motorsport career at the 2015 Middle East Rally Championship in Dubai, believes the constant self-critical process of improvement will build a solid foundation that he will leverage to climb the WRC 2 rankings.
“The competition is stronger than ever and my level of experience does not enable me to get to the top five just yet. However, I do plan do 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,” he said.
Alongside his rally motorsport career, Al-Rashed is also co-founder and director of Access Bridge Ventures, a leading early stage venture capital fund, and chairman of Kudu Corp, a restaurant chain in Saudi Arabia.
The Rally de Portugal will take place between May 19-21.
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