Mohammed Al Balooshi becomes first Emirati to claim FIM world title

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Mohammed Al Balooshi became the UAE’s first FIM world champion by clinching the Bajas World Championship in Hungary.

The Emirati’s achievement goes beyond his country’s borders as well, making him the first Arab to ever win a world title in a motorcycle FIM off-road series.

By winning in Hungary, Al Balooshi – who earlier this year became the first Emirati to complete the Dakar Rally – sets yet another milestone for the motorsport in the UAE, reinforcing once again his role as pioneer and a constant figure in the development of the sport in the country.

“I am very happy to have been able to put this medal to the achievements of the UAE. Our country came a long way in motorsport and it’s an honour to be able to make this humble contribution, and a motive of great pride to have my name next to the UAE flag, engraved forever in the FIM records.

“I hope to also represent the Arab world well and do justice to so many great athletes who work hard and keep pushing their limits, always following their passion. I’m struggling with words right now to describe how proud and happy I feel for me and my team, for my country, for the sport.”

On the last day in Veszpren, the picturesque city hosting the final round of the World Cup in Hungary, Al Balooshi had to deal with rain and changing terrain from slippery mud, along with rocky dry areas. He also had to battle mechanical problem, struggling with his KTM’s petrol pump all day, which continued failing when it touched water.

The obstacles resulted in a penalty for the Emirati, but the advantage he had built up earlier in the race and season allowed him to sustain his position atop the standings.

Mahir Badri, managing director at Sports2, the engine behind Balooshi’s International race programme, said: “It took us years working as a team, we faced a lot of challenges, and struggled a lot to reach to this point. This achievement is the result of very hard work, a lot of talent, and a strong belief.

“Even when it looked that we couldn’t go on, we never stopped believing in the project, in the talented and professional athlete we had, and in the dream of taking the UAE to a scene that has been ruled by Europeans throughout its history. We believed we could win this for our people and today the dream is a reality. We are very proud of working with such an amazing athlete like Mohammed who has strong
moral and professional values.”

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Living life on the road with Red Bull motocross star Mohammed Al Balooshi

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On the road: Mohammed Al Balooshi

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.

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Red Bull motocross athlete Mohammed Al Balooshi on his favourite places to ride

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Desert rider: Mohammed Al Balooshi

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…

UAE

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.

Bahrain

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.

Peru

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.

Belgium

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.

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