A young Dubai-based Jordanian Person of Determination has spoken of the positive impact Dubai Kartdrome’s hand-controlled go-karts – a regional first – has had on his everyday life, which helped reignite his passion for karting.
Rakan Al Omari, 14, has been using the dedicated Sodi RT8 karts since they were rolled out at the Dubai Kartdrome circuit after first spotting the karts at the venue.
Fitted with systems that enable the person to operate the kart using their hands fully, arms and upper body only, the karts are equipped with a fixed back and headrest which keeps the driver in place, allowing them to operate the steering and paddles, located behind the steering wheel.
It is the first time these models have been used in the Middle East region with Dubai Kartdrome benefitting from its partnership with leading kart brand Sodi, who had originally created the system, to bring them to the UAE.
Rakan, who also plays basketball at Dubai Club for People of Determination and takes part in wheelchair racing, regularly visits the Kartdrome every couple of weeks. He believes the special karts have given him an opportunity to rediscover his passion for karting, one of the many sports that he currently takes part in.
He explained: “When I saw this dedicated kart designed for People of Determination, I told my father that I really wanted to try it. It wasn’t an easy experience at the beginning. There were some challenges when I tried the hand-controlled kart for the first time especially as I wasn’t used to it since I had to stop karting before my accident. However, the team at Dubai Kartdrome was very helpful in sharing their knowledge which made it easier to adapt and learn.
“I feel I have made a lot of progress since I started using the hand-controlled karts and have managed to shave off ten seconds of my lap time here at the Kartdrome, which I am delighted with. When I get better lap times even if it’s a few tenths of a second, it makes a big difference to me.”
The introduction of the hand-control go-karts at Dubai Autodrome is aligned with Dubai Government’s objective to create an inclusive society for all and part of Dubai Autodrome’s ongoing efforts for inclusion.
Dubai Autodrome’s General Manager, Faisal Al Sahlawi, said: “It’s all about inclusion – karting is a lot of fun and we want to include People of Determination in the experience. There have been a few occasions over the years where we noticed guests visit the track with some family members who were unable to take part due to their challenges, and we wanted to remove these barriers and provide People of Determination the opportunity to enjoy karting.”
He added: “Even beyond operating the karts, we also have the twin seater kart which allows a driver to take a passenger around the track. It is a thrilling experience and a good introduction for those who might consider using the hand-control kart and might need a bit of confidence.”
Rakan, who is one of a few People of Determination that are using the karts, is hopeful more People of Determination in the UAE can engage with karting which can lead to more participation in local series and championships.
He said: “Karting is having a significant role in my day-to-day life. After each session, it really boosts my morale as it gives me the belief that I can compete with other people while boosting my confidence and being more independent in other activities that I do.
“The UAE is doing a lot in creating an inclusive society for all through different initiatives. I hope more People of Determination in the country know about these specially adapted karts as it’s a fun activity. There are a lot of benefits from go-karting as it helps improve your skills and hopefully, it can provide a platform where people can test themselves on a competitive stage.”