Al Dhaheri’s Italian job makes UAE racing history

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Flying the flag: Rashid Al Dhaheri has been labelled 'Mini Alonso' after being compared to Fernando Alonso due to his immense talent on the track.

Rashid Al Dhaheri made history on Sunday when he became the youngest ever Emirati racing driver to win a race on the international stage as he powered to victory in the Birel EasyKart Trophy at a round of the Italian National Karting Championship in Milan.

At the age of just six years and 40 days, the Abu Dhabi primary schoolboy took the victory in race one of the ‘bambino’ category. Rashid was the youngest in a field of 35 drivers in the six to eight age group.

After two days of practice, where he racked up over 250 km on the tricky Circuit of Castelletto, Rashid drew fourth place on the starting grid for Sunday’s race from where the youngster made a great start, fighting his way to the front to claim victory.

In race two Rashid had to start from 31st on the grid, but this did not deter him as he knuckled down to deliver another gutsy performance which saw him end up tenth and overtaking 21 drivers during the course of the 10-minute race.

Rashid’s performance impressed important figures in the Italian karting community, including ex-Formula 1 driver, Ferrari GT works driver and team principal Gianmaria ‘Gimmi’ Bruni who welcomed Rashid into his team.

“I am happy to help Rashid in his racing career path. Since I met him first time I saw passion and det-ermination in his eyes. I had the opportunity to watch him testing and recognised a great potential that can be improved step by step," declared Bruni.

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Driver profile: Adnan Bahrami

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Proud: Bahrami stands next to his RFR F1000 car.

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

Name: Adnan Bahrami

Age: 25

Born: Kuwait
Motorsport: Single seater racing

Team: Gulf Sport Racing
Car/bike/kart make: RFR F1000
Sponsor: None

Years with the sport: About one year.

Titles/podiums: Two podiums.

Favourite childhood memory of sport: Struggling to maintain a professional old kart! Then taking the kart on a spin in the streets and my neighbours complaining about the noise.

Favourite driver/rider growing up: Michael Schumacher and Hamad Al Fardan. 

Best driver/biker/karter at the moment: Zaid Ashkanani.

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

Greatest achievement in any sport: None.

If you could be a pro in any sport and why: I wish I had started racing at a younger age because I’m very passionate about motorsport.

Favourite meal: Grilled steak.

Favourite place in the UAE: Dubai Autodrome.

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Al Qubaisi ready and raring to go for second Le Mans outing

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Le Mans calling: Khaled Al Qubaisi (l) was nervous during his first race at Le Mans last year.

Khaled Al Qubaisi is looking to draw on the experience of his first appearance at the 24 Hours of Le Mans last year when he once again races at the legendary circuit in France at Round 3 of the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC), from June 12-15.

A member of Proton Competition, the Emirates Global Aluminium and Abu Dhabi Racing-backed team, Al Qubaisi will share driving duties with German Christian Ried and Klaus Bachler of Austria.

This is the first season the trio are racing together as a team, and they have already successfully completed round one at Silverstone in the UK and round two at Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium – finishing fourth overall in the LMGTE Am class on both occasions.

Al Qubaisi though has been looking forward to next month’s race ever since his first appearance at Le Mans last year, a one-off event he enjoyed so thoroughly he promised himself he would be back in 2014.

Recalling his 2013 experience, Al Qubaisi says: “Le Mans last year was amazing, I really enjoyed the atmosphere of the whole week prior to the race.

“On race day I felt very tense and anxious because it was my first time in such a big race. It was very challenging at the beginning, but I got used to it with each stint.

“I particularly enjoyed the last sting the most as I was doing driving duty. In my mind I thought I will definitely miss racing here once this is over!”

That Al Qubaisi wanted to get back to the Le Mans track was decided even before the 2013 race ended last June, the Abu Dhabi driver recalling: “When the race was nearing its end, all I was thinking about was doing it again and that I couldn’t wait. Now I am extremely glad I am able to again race at Le Mans, where I will go this time with more experience and better prepared than last year.”

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