Rising UAE motorsport talent Amna Al Qubaisi is set to make history by becoming the first female Emirati and Arab driver to race in Formula 4 in Europe.
The 17-year-old, who became the first Emirati girl to win the karting UAE senior Rotax Max Challenge series last month, has been awarded a deal with Prema team, sponsored by Kaspersky Lab, which will see her test herself against some of the world’s best up-and-coming drivers in 2018.
The announcement is a major boost for the Daman Speed Academy junior in her aspirations of achieving her F1 dream and the Abu Dhabi schoolgirl is looking forward to being behind the wheel in such a “big” competition.
“It feels really amazing to be the first female driver of the UAE to be racing in Formula Four,” Amna said during a ceremony at Yas Viceroy hotel on Friday night.
“I feel very confident that I can do well there and this is the first step to Formula One. I hope that I can make good progress and hopefully soon I can make it in Formula One.
“I hope I can live up to the expectations of Daman Speed Academy, where I have trained. And of course Abu Dhabi Racing who have placed so much trust in me.”
She has the rest of the year to get familiar with the new car but she was pleased with her first outing on a circuit she knows well.
“I’ve tested the car at Yas Marina Circuit and in Dubai and hope to get good results. My karting experience will help me as Formula Four is a different strategy but I was within the pace when I tested,” she added.
“Prema are a great team who have delivered champions. Moreover, Kaspersky Lab has come on board to sponsor the first ever female Emirati driver at this level of racing, which is fantastic.”
By joining Formula 4, Amna will be following other young drivers to take the step from karting to single-seater racing in a competition designed to be a learning and affordable step in their bid of reaching the pinnacle of the sport – the F1. Drivers can receive FIA Super Licence points, which are required to drive in F1.
Since its inception by the FIA in 2014, it has already been hugely popular with impressive grids as new regions create their own competitions.
To date, there are 12 competitions on the FIA F4 calendar including the Australian, British, Chinese, Spanish and the UAE Championship. Father Khaled Al Qubaisi, founder of Daman Speed Academy and Abu Dhabi Racing managing director was thrilled with the major news and hopes she can now realise her ultimate dream.
“It has been four years finding a driver to go up a level and Amna has done it,” he said. “Racing with Prema and the sponsorship from Kaspersky Lab is immeasurable and we hope this association will go a long way in getting Amna to compete at the highest level.”
Kaspersky Lab’s managing director for the Middle East, Turkey and Africa, Maxim Frolov, added: “It’s great to see this success and professional growth in a sport that we support. In her achievements, Amna Al Qubaisi is a great example of human power combined with the best technologies. We believe it’s changing the paradigm of Emirati sports and taking it to newer, higher levels.”
Before her new ventures, Amna will be aiming to add to her trophy cabinet when she competes in the Grand World Finals of the Rotex Max Challenge in Portugal later this year. This season, she also came up trumps in the GCC Young Drivers Academy, while her efforts on the track saw her win the Outstanding Emirati Athlete accolade at the UAE Teen Sports and Fitness Awards.
Abu Dhabi Racing Junior Rally Programme driver Mohamed Al Mutawaa returns to racing action with the 52nd Antibes Cote d’Azur Rally, the French Rally Championship, beginning this Friday.
Following a break of nearly six months, Al Mutawaa is looking forward to the challenge with new co-driver Niall Burns of Ireland after his FIA Junior World Rally Championship campaign last season.
Continuing his learning curve, Al Mutawaa is now looking to gain experience in a new championship where he will run on tarmac in Nice behind the wheel of a DS3 R3 run by PH Sport.
Al Mutawaa said: “First of all, I am really grateful for this opportunity to Sheikh Khalid Al Qassimi and Abu Dhabi Racing for their continued support. It is an honour to be in this dream team for the last five years.
“I am really looking forward to get back in that racing seat as it has been nearly six months since I have been competing. The plan for my first race of the season is to try and get things back flowing nicely again.
“I have a new co-driver in Niall and I am looking forward to learn from him and build a strong relationship so we can have good notes and drive with confidence.
“The championship is home to some of the best rally drivers in the world, so it will be tough. For the first rally of this season I will try and get my rhythm back and most importantly gain experience from the mileage over the three days.”
The 52nd Antibes Cote d’Azur Rally consists of 14 special stages, with total length of 207.88 Km.
The GCC Young Drivers Academy program kicked off in the UAE on Monday after two extensive training days in Bahrain.
Promising young drivers were selected and nominated by motorsport governing bodies in Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE.
This initiative was a key point on the agenda of the inaugural meeting of GCC Motorsport Committee, which took place earlier in March. Mohammed Ben Sulayem, President of the Automobile and Touring Club of UAE and President of EMSF, said: “The GCC YDA is an important addition in the development of local talented stars.
“This project was launched in collaboration with all concerned parties in the region and with the support of FIA as well as our partners Nissan and Arabian Automobiles, who share our passion of developing motorsport in the region.”
While the main focus will be on development and assessment of both circuit and rally driving skills, the course will also cover safety, social media skills and sports science.
Each country nominates two drivers aged between 15 and 21, and the UAE has nominated Amna Al Qubaisi and Saeed Al Ali, who contest against each other and ten drivers nominated by other GCC motorsport governing bodies.
Rally training started yesterday in UAE’s desert, utilising buggy type vehicles that can be used in the new regional cross-country rallies series, Gulf Challenge, which starts after the summer in the region. On Tuesday’s final day, the judges will select a winner and runner up.