UAE’s ‘Little Alonso’ embarks on final and toughest Italian Job

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Exceptional talent: 'Little Alonso' Rashid Al Dhaheri has won as many as 17 races as 17 races in the UAE and overseas so far this season.

Rashid Al Dhaheri, the six-year-old Abu Dhabi schoolboy who has caught the imagination of the racing world both here in the UAE and Europe, will participate in the Parolin Grand Finals at the Pista Azzurra di Jesolo near Venice over the weekend.

During a break in karting in the UAE over the summer, Rashid began racing at various circuits in Italy, winning several races.

It has been a comprehensive programme for Rashid in Italy, which began in April and has since included seven races in EasyKart championship and Parolin 60cc Academy Champion Kart. 

He also underwent intensive training by ACI CSAI Federal School – an academy run by the Italian motorsport commission. 

Affectionately known as ‘Little Alonso’ after he revealed that Formula One star Fernando Alonso was his hero, Rashid is said to have even impressed ex-Formula 1 driver, Ferrari GT works driver and team principal Gianmaria ‘Gimmi’ Bruni who said: “I had the opportunity to watch him testing and I see a great potential that can be improved step-by-step.”

Rashid’s father Ali Al Dhaheri said: “Rashid will again be one of the youngest drivers in action this weekend at Jesolo. But this has not been a deterrent for him in the past and he should be able to compete near the front.

“Our boy has represented the UAE with pride and won many friends during our Italian ‘adventure’ this year. In the end, he is still a kid and enjoyment should be his first priority.” 

Al Dhaheri will be in action from October 24-26 at Jesolo and is likely to face his toughest challenge yet of the season.

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Sam Sunderland expects tough EDC challenge

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Chance to impress: Sam Sunderland is looking in good form ahead of this weekend's event.

Sam Sunderland returns to action in the Emirates Desert Championship this weekend as he bids for victory in another record-breaking round of the national Baja rally series.

Sunderland, a key member of the Red Bull KTM Factory Rally Team, finished runner-up in the recent final round of the 2014 FIM Cross Country Rallies World Championship in Morocco, but knows there will be no easy ride on home territory.

“There are a few fast guys to race against, and the events are very strategic because the guy in front is doing all the work,” he said. “The guy behind can follow, read his body language and see if there is any danger, so it’s always fun and competitive.”

Beaten in Morroco by team-mate and new world champion Marc Coma, the Dubai-based British rider is now fully focused on the Emirates Desert Championship, which continues with the second of six short-course rallies in the Dubai desert on Friday morning.

He will be in good company as the event, taking place in the Margham area, looks certain to eclipse the record entry of 100 competitors set in the first round earlier this month.

“It's great for the sport to have more entries as it’s growing fast in the Middle East and this Baja championship is awesome,” said Sunderland.

Elsewherere, former Polish bikes star Marek Dabrowski makes his series debut on four wheels. Dabrowski has been a regular competitor in the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge in recent years, as well as in the Dakar Rally where he drove to seventh place overall in January after switching from bikes to cars.

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Mahmoud Tannir races to opening round victory in Qatar

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On top: Mahmoud Tannir.

Lebanese rider Mahmoud Tannir scored maximum points during the opening round of the Qatar Superbike Championship 2014, clinching two race wins at the Losail International Circuit.

Tannir, a double UAE Sportbikes champion, raced his TMR Honda in the 600cc class and managed to put the motorcycle on pole position (1st in category, 13th overall) during Friday’s busy qualifying session of 47 riders, before cruising to a double win on Saturday.

“Dedicating this first win of Qatar SBK 600 to my incredible team and the guys at Al Futtaim Honda who worked so hard to get us here on time, to all my sponsors for their trust and mostly to my family and friends for their amazing support. Thank you!” wrote Tannir on his official Facebook Page.

The 2014 Qatar Superbike Championship will consist of seven rounds, with the next one scheduled on October 31-November 1 as a support race for the final round of World Superbikes.

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