Red Bull athlete Mohammed Al Balooshi is a motocross and desert rally rider, and the first Emirati to take part in the Dakar Rally. For the last article of his monthly column Balooshi talks about what it’s like living life on the road.
I spend a lot of time travelling to different places and when we’re on the road the days have to be very well organised, everything has to happen at a certain time. Usually, in the mornings, I do some warm up exercises and have breakfast and then go out on the bikes for a test run and fixing a few things.
A few days before a race I wake up very early in the morning, before sunrise and go to the paddock and prepare my things. I always carry some food with me, like dates for energy. Then I’ll prepare my camel pack with water and check my road book and drink a can of Red Bull. The following day will be the same, more testing and training and by the time you come back to the hotel you sleep until the race day. We are riding at really high speeds for long periods so you need to concentrate, usually the race day is quite long, it’s an average of 5-6 hours on a smaller race and once I’m done I eat and sleep.
One of my favourite trips is Bahrain as it’s not very stressful because I know what I need from previous years racing there. I have all the things set up upon arrival, like my bike is prepared in the UAE. We take about eight hours on the road and it’s a lot of fun with the boys. There’s a lot of laughter and goofing around. Once we are there we’ll eat to together and then the team will split up.
Personally I like to get into the zone mentally and just think about the race. On the race day you meet all the other riders coming from different countries and so you have to remain focused. You don’t want to be rude but other riders are thinking the same, we’re all concentrating on the task at hand, socialising can be done afterwards. Although, I often travel back the same day of the race and sometimes I’ve even had a race in Dubai and then driven eight hours to Bahrain to race the next day. It was not easy, but we do it because it’s all worth it to ride the bikes and I love what I do.
Red Bull athlete Mohammed Al Balooshi is a Red Bull motocross and desert rally rider, and the first Emirati to take part in the Dakar Rally. For the third article of his monthly column Balooshi talks about his favourite places in the world to get on his bike.
I’ve been lucky enough to race in so many places around the world. Just last week I thinking about this when I was racing in Spain, which was supposed to be summery conditions but there was a thunderstorm a few days before the race so it was muddy and wet and not easy. When you train in the UAE it’s hard to prepare for ground like that, but I enjoyed it, and I’ve enjoyed racing on other terrain around the world. Here are my favourites…
It’s very difficult to pick a number one because I’ve ridden in so many places but the UAE desert is probably my favourite because within the desert there are a variety of different terrains. For instance, Liwa is open with big dunes so the riding style is different than riding in other areas but there are a lot of different types of vegetation within the UAE.
The motocross track in Bahrain is great and I love going there. It’s a sandy course but it’s thick sand with lots of fun jumps and I look forward to racing it every year. Throughout my career I’ve always got a good result on this track and I still get excited to race there. In fact I still get butterflies in my stomach the night before I race there.
I rode it for the first time in my life for the Dakar rally and the dunes there are even bigger than Liwa. I think it’s because they sit at the base of mountains so they are over 2,000 metres high. I remember when I was on the road section and I could see these massive dunes in the distance and I thought they were the mountains, that’s how big they were, it was such a unique experience riding there.
I’m more of a desert rider so most of my best riding is done outside of Europe, plus it isn’t blessed with many sandy deserts. I have done a lot of training a lot in Belgium though, and I actually didn’t enjoy it to begin with because it was muddy and the sand is tough but by the end of my training I was having a lot of fun there.
Oman’s Al Faisal Al Zubair and Khalid Al Wahaibi fought their way back from lowly qualifying positions because of a team tyre choice error to finish the fifth round of the Porsche Mobil 1 Super Cup in 17th and 24th positions respectively in Hockenheim on Sunday.
Al Zubair, of the Lechner Racing Team Middle East team, passed several drivers in an impressive run through the tail end of the field and managed to make up nine places from his original starting position in just 14 laps.
Al Wahaibi also passed several back-markers early in the race before losing a couple of positions near the end after tackling much of the race with a slow puncture that hampered his progress.
England’s Nick Yelloly took full advantage of his pole position to lead the processional race at the front from start to finish. Mattia Drudi finished second and defending champion Michael Ammermuller moved up from fifth to round off the podium places.
Al Zubair said: “It was a good race. It was unfortunate that I started in 26th but I had a lot of pace and we made up 10 positions. There were three guest drivers as well so we definitely made it into the points. We made a few good moves. It’s not the easiest track to overtake on either.”
Al Wahaibi added: “It was quite a difficult race in terms of results. I started P29 due to the mistake we had in qualifying with the wet tyres. From then on I knew it was just about getting through the race and doing as much as I could and gaining as much experience as I could.
“I had a slow puncture, which made it difficult for me, but I managed to get up to P23 with the slow puncture that hampered me right through the race. I am happy I got it across the line in the end with the puncture.
“That’s what I told the team I would do. P24 is not too bad considering the circumstances with the qualifying mistake and the puncture. This one happened from the start and it got worse as the race went on.”
Al Zubair and Al Wahaibi lined up in 26th and 29th after the team’s tyre choice error in a drying qualifying session on Saturday. Yelloly was on pole position for the 14-lap race from Mikael Pedersen, Drudi, Thomas Preining and Ammermuller.
The leading quintet held station through the opening lap, but it was a good first lap for the Omani duo and they climbed to 22nd and 24th. Drudi managed to overtake Pedersen and snatch second place on lap three, where Al Zubair climbed a further place to 21st.
There were no changes at the top of the leaderboard through five laps, although Al Zubair moved in front of Richard Heistand to snatch 20th overall.
Al Wahaibi moved up to 23rd on the next lap.
Ammermuller made his move on the seventh lap and surged into third position behind Yelloly and Drudi and at the expense of Pedersen and Preining. The eighth lap was a good one for both Al Zubair and Al Wahaibi and the Omani duo continued their progression, with Al Zubair moving up to 18th and Al-Wahaibi snatching 22nd.
Al Wahaibi then lost a place to Josh Webster on the 11th lap and slipped back to 23rd .
Al Zubair climbed to 17th on the last lap, as Yelloly held on to confirm the win and Al Wahaibi passed the chequered flag in 24th after losing a place to Heistand in the closing minutes with the puncture.
Action in the Porsche Mobil 1 Super Cup resumes in Hungary this weekend.