Today was a huge learning curve overall because it was my first rally and race of this nature where you have to combine navigation and riding skills.
So it was a very new experience but luckily I had a bit of prep with my dad because he helped me with the navigation side of things, because I’d never incorporated that in a race so far.
In the first stage, everything went well, I had a good start and I was riding with a couple of other riders who I could pace myself with.
The only struggle was kind of getting used to the navigating versus following other people’s routes. You kind of have to trust yourself that even if another rider goes one way and you see that you’re supposed to go the other because they might have gone wrong – to trust your gut feeling is kind of hard sometimes and you freak out. So at one point I did have to double-back and try and find my way again even though I was on the right way but I just got kind of scared because I didn’t see any tracks anymore.
But I was really happy with my result of the first stage because I came in 15th of 33 riders who finished and overall, health and fitness-wise, I felt pretty good.
It was a really enjoyable race. We had a two-hour break after that and by the time that stage two rolled around, it got really windy and dusty. Even though you kind of already had the tracks to follow for most of it, I still tried to follow my GPS as much as possible. I had two, with two different settings, and one of them kept shutting off, so I was back to one GPS, which was a bit of a struggle. So I had to stop a couple of times to recalibrate the one I was focusing on. And even though you had all the tracks out there, because it was so windy some of them did get blown away and at some points I was a bit unsure because some areas were more heavily-trafficked.
A lot of it is, I found, really trusting your gut feeling and kind of combining what others do and what you see on your GPS. I didn’t come out as good in the second stage because I stopped a couple of times. And I came off once, another rider was coming in hot behind me so I tried to speed up and we both crashed because we were going really fast into an area where you had to kind of slow down, it was some tight dunes. So that was interesting.
In the second stage I came in 22nd of 31 and that left me overall at 19th place. I won the ladies division by default. Overall for my first experience I’m really happy because I didn’t have any accidents, I finished, and I think everything I managed to plan out as good as I could for my first race and I had really good support from Vendetta Racing, my dad, and my significant other.
It was cool to see how the guys were so supportive and willing to help out. I had a bit of a radiator cap problem, so they helped me out and switched mine out. It’s also cool, at the first stage when I came into the finish there was a couple of guys waiting already and they were a bit surprised that I came in so quickly I think which was really cool.
I think the feedback was to also try and get more ladies into it. Overall it was just a really good learning experience. I’m really looking forward to the race in March. I hope that we can have this on the calendar for next year again.
If I compare this to the Emirates Desert Championship that we do, I think this is more of a strategic and mental race. I actually enjoyed it a lot more because there are a couple of elements that come in other than just being fast and following a track as fast as possible.
I think for next time, if I were to work on something, it would be just working more with my GPS, making sure I have one that actually works and reliably stays on. Hopefully this is a nice little stepping stone to maybe work towards the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge in the future.
I was really happy with my bike set-up compared to other bikes because mine is a KTM 450 SXF, it’s more of a motocross bike than a rally bike. It’s a lot lighter, I’m a lot lighter compared to others, I think that gave me a little bit of an advantage. Also my fuel consumption is a lot less so I managed to go on one tank throughout the whole stage each time.
I would like to thank Vendetta Racing for helping me out in the pit and ATCUAE for setting up a really good event.
Next weekend, UAE racing fans can enjoy a weekend of racing at the home of the Formula One Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
Friday 16 and Saturday 17 December will see the Circuit host the sixth edition of the Gulf 12 Hours.
In total, 25 cars from 18 teams line up on the grid and go head-to-head.
Loris Capirossi, the three-time MotoGP World Champion, will be making his return for a second season in international endurance motorsport, racing a Ferrari 458 GT3 with Swiss team Kessel Racing.
Split into two rounds of six hours’ racing each, the cars run in both daylight and under floodlights.
The championship features a range of luxurious cars including GT3 cars, Lamborghini SuperTrofeo, GTX [Aston Martin Vantage GT4, Maserati Grantursimo MC and Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport] and Ligier JSP3 prototypesbest GT.
The Gulf 12 Hours will also be supported by the next round of the Formula4 UAE championship at its Yas Marina Circuit home and offers a chance to talent spot future racing stars.
A general admission ticket costs Dh25 while, for the first time, Yas Marina Circuit is also offering a Friday street food themed brunch from 12:00 – 16:00 at Dh395 with grape and hops and Dh295 with soft drinks and kids under 12 eating free.
On the Saturday, there is a two-course roast available, priced at Dh195 with half a bottle of grape or unlimited soft drinks per person. Kids under 12 eat free once again.
You can register in advance at www.yasmarinacircuit.com for the chance to win a free driving experience on the track in cars such as the Mercedes AMG and YAS 3000.
The third Sodi World Series [SWS] event in a row at Dubai Kartdrome has seen a Junior Cup driver reach the highest step of the podium for their first time as Danny Shields took first place on Monday night.
Over the season, Shields has often been in the mix with the race leaders but an SWS Junior Cup victory had eluded him,.
But, fromseventh on the grid, Shields rocketed off the line in Race One and carved a path through the karts ahead. He grabbed the lead and held off his rivals to take the chequered flag, just 0.173 seconds ahead of Seif Al Naggar.
In Race Two there would be even more contenders for the throne as four drivers broke cover and clashed for the lead. The pack kept changing as Alex Connor, Omar Aswat, Samir Malas, and Shields each manoeuvred to take control.
After nine aggressive laps, Connor came out on top of the scuffle, crossing the finish line a mere 0.245 seconds ahead of Aswat. Malas secured third and Shields trailed in fourth.
When the points were tallied for the night Shields won 71, pipping Connor by a point to secure a maiden SWS Junior first place trophy.
“I’m very happy,” said Shields. “I’m proud and I’ve had quite a lot of support from friends at school, friends from different countries.”
Competition was also fierce in the SWS Senior Cup, but this time the spoils of victory belonged to the more experienced drivers.
Multiple karting and motorsport champion Saeed Al Mehairi set the bar in Qualifying with a best lap time of 1:11.140. Abigail Birch was just off the mark by 0.266 seconds with a best time of 1:11.406. Ahmed Al Hammadi was also close with a time of 1:11.780.
Al Mehairi made the most of his pole position in Race One, controlling the race and bringing the kart home for victory. Anjum Shaikh did well to go from fourth on the grid to second place at the chequered flag, after a close scrap with third place Birch.
In Race Two it was Birch who made the best getaway and jumped out in front, followed right behind by Al Mehairi, Romaldo Labrooy and Hussain Umid Ali. The four drivers broke away from the pack and boxed it out, ducking and diving on every corner.
The veteran expertise of Al Mehairi was again too much, and he emerged from the brawl on top, crossing the finish line 0.255 seconds in front of Labrooy. Umid Ali shadowed in for third.