Newly-crowned FIM world champion Mohammad Al Balooshi admitted he feared for his title chances following his concussion in April’s Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge.
The Emirati rider won the Bajas World Championship in Hungary by a margin of six points at the weekend in a tricky third and final round in Veszprem.
The feat meant Al Balooshi became the UAE’s first-ever FIM world champion but it was an emotional journey in getting his hands on the title.
The 38-year-old was out of action for 10 weeks after being knocked unconscious during April’s Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge. Although he was discharged from hospital in 48 hours, the impact of the accident meant Al Balooshi was back on the wheels in mid-June. He wasn’t at his best in his first outing – the second round in Aragon but was still in the title mix going into Hungary.
With the trophy won, Al Balooshi opened up on how difficult it was to stand top of the podium.
Regrann from @sports2official - مبرووووك للامارات ...رسميا محمد البلوشي بطل كأس العالم للدراجات النارية(الباها) ... شكرا لكم ولك من ساهم في هذا الانجاز التاريخي باسم دولتنا الغالية 🇦🇪🇦🇪🇦🇪 🏆🥇 .. . Congratulations to the UAE 🇦🇪 ... Mohammed Al Balooshi is officially the winner of the 2018 FIM Bajas World Cup. Thanks to all who have supported us to reach this historical achievement 🇦🇪🇦🇪🏆🥇 . #uae #unitedarabemirates🇦🇪 #unitedarabemirates #الامارات #بطولة_العالم_للراليات #thankyou - #regrann
“It wasn’t easy because I was off the training programme for around 10 weeks and didn’t do anything during that time,” he told Sport360.
“In the Baja Aragon it was really uncomfortable because it was the first race. I didn’t think about the crash too much but the way I was riding, it was in the back of my head and just managed to collect points. I went to Hungary and it was similar but it was better because I was fast and knew what I needed to do to secure the title. You have to ride smart at times. I had everything to lose and the championship was in my hand. But I have been in this situation before and I just wanted to focus on the task.”
The Abu Dhabi native will continue racing in regional and UAE-based races until the end of the year before flying out for next year’s Dakar Rally in January.
He isn’t getting too carried away on his title chances in South American but insists progress will be key.
“I want to improve my result and I feel there should be progress every year. I don’t believe in jumping big steps and it’s important to finish high. Last year I finished 32nd and next year the aim would be to half that and anywhere in 15th position would be good,” he added.
Romaldo Labrooy and Anjum Shaikh of Dubai Falcons Racing Team were relentless in pursuit of their third win in a row at Dubai Kartdrome on Monday, wrapping up the 2018 Sodi World Series (SWS) Summer Enduro Cup Championship in top form.
Arjun Manjunath of Emirates PRO presented a challenge to the Dubai Falcons early on by securing pole position with a best lap time of 52.358 on the Speedway Bus Stop Circuit at Dubai Kartdrome.
However, endurance races are not won on a single fast lap, and the steady and controlled driving by veterans Labrooy and Shaikh made all the difference in the race.
After 145 laps and over two hours of racing, Dubai Falcons Racing Team made it look easy, with Anjum Shaikh crossing the finish line a full 22.798 seconds ahead of Emirates PRO.
Championship rivals, SLD Racing, struggled in the final round, settling for a fifth-place finish and leaving the door wide open for Dubai Falcons Racing Team to walk home with the title.
Over the three rounds of the SWS Summer Enduro Cup, the Dubai Falcons were near perfect in their pursuit of the 2018 title.
They racked up three straight victories, two pole positions, one fastest lap and 153 total championship points.
Muteb Alsaqhan and Duarte Lopes of SLD Racing collected 128 points for second-place, just four points above Mohammed Ismail and Saeed Al Mehairi of Al Ain Falcons Racing Team with 124 points and the third step on the championship podium.
The track variations in each round may have been difficult for some drivers, but winner Anjum Shaikh enjoyed the challenge.
He said, “Great championship and the best part was the three different tracks.”
Along with the winning trophy, Labrooy and Shaikh also received prizes, including free entry into Round Three of the Dubai Kartdrome Endurance Championship (19-20 October) and hotel vouchers at the Park Inn by Radisson in MotorCity.
Dubai Kartdrome Manager David Bright said, “Congratulations to Romaldo and Anjum.
“They demonstrated spectacular driving on their way to a well-earned victory to take the first Summer Enduro Cup title.”
“I’d also like to thank George Gibbons Motorsport (GGM) and Park Inn by Radisson in MotorCity for supporting the series and providing great prizes for the top teams.”
After seven successful seasons as the NGK Racing Series, which featured Touring Cars, Radicals and GTs, the Touring Car segment has grown significantly to support an entire series on its own.
The NGK UAE TCC will feature multiple classes, including the new “Renault Clio Cup Class powered by Renault Middle East”, which is expected to have the most cars of any category on the grid.
In addition to race weekend prizes and parts support, Renault Middle East will also offer the champion of the Renault Clio Cup Class powered by Renault Middle East an all-expense paid entry into a race of the Renault Clio Cup France in 2019.
Dubai Autodrome General Manager Faisal Al Sahlawi remarked, “The Renault Clio Cup has always been an integral part of Touring Car racing in the UAE, and it is fantastic to now have Renault Middle East directly involved.
We welcome their support which will be a big boost for the series.”
Renault Middle East Marketing Director Emmanuel Guiffault said, “With Renault Sports set to re-launch in the region, the Dubai Autodrome partnership and the Renault Clio Cup Class powered by Renault Middle East provide the perfect platforms to promote Renault performance cars.”
“Renault Middle East is looking forward to supporting the most competitive class in the NGK UAE Touring Car Championship.”
Drivers who are interested in racing a Renault Clio Cup car for the 2018-2019 season are encouraged to visit the Renault Clio Cup stand at the Emirates Motorsport Expo on September 14 at Dubai Autodrome, or contact Dominic Simon, Sales & Events Executive at Dubai Autodrome ([email protected]).
The first round of the NGK UAE TCC kicks off on November 16-17 at Dubai Autodrome.