BETTER late than never, goes the saying. And Adel Hussein Abdulla would be among the first to vouch for it.
Adel, who was competing in support category (T2) of the FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Rallies, had to wait for a while before being crowned the champion. But it was certainly worth the wait as he became the second Qatari to win a world title, after Nasser Saleh Al Attiyah, in any form of motor sports.
The Nissan Patrol driver had finished his 2016 engagements with a victory in the final round of series in Portugal in October. After the rally, Adel’s team lodged a protest with the sport’s governing body (FIA) about the legality of his main rival Yasir Saeidan’s car at the previous round in Morocco.
And last month, the protest was upheld by the FIA Court of Appeal, handing Adel his maiden crown.
Adel exuded confidence as he begins his title defence in support category with the Dubai International Baja starting on Thursday.
“Winning the world title last year was a dream come true for me. Of course, I had to wait for a while for the FIA verdict. But it didn’t prove futile. Now I’m fresh and ready to defend the title,” said Adel, who got a shot in the arm recently when Nissan Qatar extended his contract.
It has been a big turnaround for the Qatari who started off as a quad bike rider and first showed glimpses of his talent by winning the inaugural edition of Sealine Cross-Country Rally in 2012.
He gradually switched from quads to cars and, with the solid backing of Nissan Qatar and Qatar Motor and Motorcycle Federation and completed his first full season at the FIA World Cup last year where he notched up three wins in nine events — Abu Dhabi, Spain and Portugal.
“The support of Hisham Saleh Al Mana (Saleh Al Hamad Al Mana Chairman and Managing Director) and his team throughout 2016 played a major role
in my World Cup triumph. It’s great to be part of a winning combination,” added Adel who, after being named as brand ambassador of the Japanese car manufacturer, will be part of its Corporate Social Responsibility activities, which include promoting safe driving in Qatar.
The new season features the addition of two more events on the FIA calendar — Dubai and Kazakhstan — and Adel is relishing the challenge.
“I’m looking forward to the 2017 season with full of hope. The calendar features two extra events, the first of which starts on Thursday and I hope to do well,” added Adel.
Unlike the previous season where he was relatively unknown, Adel starts 2017 with the ‘champion’ tag and he hopes he can deliver.
“I know it’ll be another challenging year. I expect the competition to be even stronger this year and being the champion, expectations will be more from me. I hope to live up to them,” he concluded.