Khalid Al-Qassimi fought back from a damaged radiator to secure a podium finish on the opening round of the FIA Middle East Rally Championship having taken third spot on the Qatar International Rally.

The Citroen driver had taken the early lead following the opening Super Special stage of the event only to then lose ground on the local driver when the first true stages took place the following day.

Although closer to the pace on the repeat run through the stages, Al-Qassimi was hampered by a radiator leak that saw him drop over two minutes to the leader.

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"We managed to repair the radiator and replace the coolant with water from our water bottles," explained the Abu Dhabi driver. "We turned up late at the start and completed SS6 at a much slower speed. The main thing was that we avoided having to retire and held onto third position."

Although he was able to post a quickest time on SS8, Al-Qassimi was forced to settle for the final place one the podium as Nasser Al-Attiyah took victory, with Abdulaziz Al-Kuwari in second.

"Once again, I had to deal with the fact that the course was not always clearly marked," Al-Qassimi said, "but I'm pleased to have set some good times. It augurs well for the next few rallies."

Al-Qassimi is set to contested selected events on the WRC schedule with Citroen this season.