Driver profile: Maurits Knopjes

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Family affair: Maurits Knopjes (l) stands proudly alongside his two sons who share his love for motorsport.

Sport 360° sit down with UAE single seat kart driver Maurits Knopjes to discuss his achievements in the sport and find out about his passions both on and off the track. 

Name: Maurits Knopjes

Age: 41

Nationality: Dutch 
Motorsport: Karting 

Team: Scuderia 
Car/bike/kart make: Tony Kart 
Sponsor: None 

Years with the sport: Over 20 years. 

Titles/podiums: Five times UAE champion in Senior Max and DD1 overall, 3rd and 7th in World Finals DD2 Masters, three-time Middle East endurance champion, Dutch Senior Max champion 2005. 

Favourite childhood memory of sport: Goose bumps watching karts. 

Favourite driver/rider growing up: Ayrton Senna. 

Best driver/biker/karter at the moment: Lewis Hamilton. 

Other sports you have played and to what standard: None. 

Greatest achievement in any sport: 3rd in World Finals. 

If you could be a pro in any sport: Formula One. 

Favourite meal: Pasta. 

Favourite place in the UAE: Home.

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Cudlin and Al Malki set for final day showdown in Qatar

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Mixed weekend: Alex Cudlin won the first race but had to sit out the second.

The Qatar Superbike Championship will be decided in its last round from June 6-7 after current leader Alex Cudlin managed to win one of two races over the weekend at Losail International Circuit.

With 255 points to his credit, Australian Cudlin will carry a 26-point advantage over Qatar’s Nasser Al Malki into the final weekend with another Qatari, Mishal Al Naimi (179), and Nina Prinz (155) of Germany rounding off the top four in the standings.

Cudlin, the defending champion, won the first race from near enough lights to flag, beating Al Malki to the finish by 5.444 seconds.

“The race was pretty easy to be honest. I got into the lead on the second corner,” said Cudlin. “After the first lap I thought Nasser was behind me, but then realised it was Mishal. I then set the fastest lap and from there I just controlled race.”

Al Malki, who started from pole, missed a gear on the first lap and went off the track and down to eighth.

However, the BMW rider staged a remarkable recovery to eventually finish second.

The Qatari said: “I started on pole and I expected a big fight with Alex, but on the first corner I missed a gear and went off track.

“After getting back on track, there was too much traffic and it became difficult to catch Alex. But I am happy with second position.”

Prinz completed the podium in third while Al Naimi was forced to retire following technical issues with his Honda.

Cudlin could perhaps have sealed the championship, but the Australian was unable to start Race 2 due to problems with his Kawasaki.

Cudlin’s loss though was Al Malki’s gain, the Qatari winning Race 2 and closing the gap at the top with Cudlin in the battle for the title.

Al Naimi rounded off the top three.

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Fractured vertebrae puts the brakes on Jones’ F3 challenge

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Ed Jones will sit out the next three rounds of the FIA Formula 3 European Championship as he continues to recovery from an injury sustained at the last round in Pau, France.

Jones, who won the European F3 Open Championship in 2013, and also finished third in the national class of the British F3 in the same season, only stepped up to the senior F3 series this year.

The 19-year-old, born and brought up in the UAE, opened his rookie season at Silverstone by finishing inside the points in two of the three races and followed that up with two podium places at Hockenheim, Germany.

However, things did not go too well in Pau, with the exception of Race 1 where Jones finished eighth.

Jones did set some fast times during practice in Pau, ending with a combined seventh fastest time. 

However, things were to dramatically change for Jones during qualifying after he had set an assured first flying lap, at which point his luck changed for the worse after clipping a kerb a little too hard, sending him head-on into the side barriers.

Jones’ luck took a further turn for the worse when, while running inside the top 10 in Race 2, he hit the barriers once again.

The severity of the injury he suffered as a result of the two crashes surfaced only after the Briton returned to Dubai.

Jones has confirmed that he has suffered fractured vertebrae and has been advised by doctors not to race anytime soon.

“Ed Jones will unfortunately miss the next three rounds of the F3 FIA European Championship due to injury,” his father Russell Jones said in a statement.

“It was discovered post the race qualifying incident at Pau that he unfortunately suffered a fractured vertebrae and has been advised not to race. He is expected to return for the Moscow round (scheduled for July 11-13)."

Jones says he is extremely disappointed that he will miss these rounds, adding: “I am very positive for the future, I feel very confident about the results I can produce and look forward to resuming the championship in Moscow.”

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