The inaugural Students’ Karting Cup – a new grassroots series targeted at boosting domestic interest in the sport of karting – will take place over four weekends in January and February next year.
With registration now open to UAE-based students of all nationalities between the ages of 12 to 19-years-old, the multi-round cup will feature two competition categories: Juniors for 12 to 15-year-olds and Seniors for 16 to 19-year-olds.
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The brainchild of PRODRIVE Sports Services, one of the UAE’s leading independent organisers of individual and corporate sporting events, the Students Karting Cup will take place at Al Ain Raceway – the Middle East’s only International Karting Commission (CIK) accredited International Grade B circuit.
“This first-of-its-kind karting competition will galvanise an already popular sport in the UAE and, we hope, contribute to propelling the evolution of regional motorsports,” said Sayed Harris Hassan, PRODRIVE’s CEO.
“The UAE is now home to an increasingly diverse calendar of world-class motorsport events and we want to see homegrown talents fighting it out on the international stage – both domestically and internationally. The Students’ Karting Cup has been conceived to introduce the UAE’s next generation of sporting talent into competitive karting – the traditional entry-point for the majority of professional motorsport drivers.”
In contrast to other regional karting programmes, the karting event aims to develop all aspects of young drivers’ capabilities – from punctuality and adherence to safety, to natural speed and attention to rules and regulations on the circuit.
“Contrary to popular belief, racing is not just about speed,” added Sayed. “Drivers need more in their lockers than raw pace alone. The Students’ Karting Cup will assess young drivers, identify who has the rounded talents required for modern day racing and then nurture the best prospects.”
Supported by Abu Dhabi Racing (ADR), the Abu Dhabi-based company that develops initiatives to boost the emirate’s presence in global motorsport, the competition will also offer a coveted trial with ADR’s prestigious Daman Speed Academy – which aims to groom young UAE nationals to become professional racing drivers – to the top-ranking Emirati drivers in the Junior andSenior categories.
“Karting is the starting point for virtually every world-class racing driver competing today – it is the heartbeat of motorsport,” said Khaled Al Qubaisi, ADR’s Managing Director and the first Emirati to finish the famous 24 hours race at historic French circuit, Le Mans.
“Karting is a breeding ground for talent. The sport hones young drivers’ skills and provides them with invaluable racing experience. It is also a crucial platform for physical and emotional development. Karting is where drivers develop and grow into their adult bodies and discover the competitive edge as they learn what it takes to be successful, victorious and how to be a team player.”
Registration for the Students’ Karting Cup costs AED1,150 per individual driver and is open until Tuesday 15th December.
— SKCAE (@SKCAE2016) November 16, 2015
For their entry fees, students will receive a Starter Kit worth AED900 that includes branded Students’ Karting Cup clothing and 60-minutes of assured track time. The track time includes two 15-minute ‘Arrive and Drive’ sessions and an ‘Open Day’ pass for an unlimited number of sessions – available on a first-come, first-served basis – that can be redeemed at Al Ain Raceway any time between December 16 to January 14.
On Friday 15 January, all drivers will convene at Al Ain Raceway for a 30-minute assessment where qualified instructors from the circuit and PRODRIVE will evaluate their abilities and responses to aspects such as safety, punctuality, speed and the attention paid to rules and regulations. Following the assessment day, the expected 200-250 driver field will be trimmed to a final line-up of 100-125, who will contest three race weekends on Friday 5, 19 and 26 February.
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Team UAE drivers Sanad Al Rawahi and Piers Pakenham-Walsh finished sixth and ninth respectively on final day of the Rotax MAX Grand Finals in Portugal.
Al Rawahi started from 13th on the grid but was involved in first lap chaos, which saw him drop to near the back of the field of 34. But he recovered well and powered to sixth place for his best showing at a showpiece event.
Meanwhile, Pakenham-Walsh recovered from 29th on the grid to claim a well-deserved ninth place as he battled off some of the world’s top drivers.
"The engine I had was not the fastest, but I gave it all I have and am very happy to be in the top ten. Big thanks to my family, my mechanic Tom Holland and Team UAE for a great effort. I am very, very happy,” said Pakenham-Walsh.
It was bitter disappointment for Luke Varley who never put a foot wrong all week in the DD2 class, winning two of his Heats and finishing second in the Pre-final.
In the final, starting from second on the grid he was swamped and overtaken by several drivers. Nevertheless he recovered well and started picking his way to the front, but while battling for third he tangled with a slower driver and was forced to retire from the race.
Hungarian driver Ferenc Kancsar won the race to claim the DD2 world title.
Both Team UAE drivers in the MAX Pre-final had a morning to forget as they were embroiled in battles that saw them drop down to the tail of the field with Tom Bale and Abdullah Al Rawahi finishing 20th and 26th.
However, they both fared better in the final with Bale crossing the line in 16th and Al Rawahi 21st, with Italian driver Alex Alex claiming the MAX world title.
Round 3 of the Qatar Superbike Championship has seen some noticeable improvements. No technical issues occurred in either race. So I guess Lady Luck smiled upon us this time around!
However, I am not fully satisfied with the lap time, and I believe that we can still improve on how we start and the way we finish the races.
It is always good to be in Top 4 though, and I am satisfied with that achievement.
We qualified in fourth place and even after some setbacks during the past rounds we managed to get into fourth and I like the fact that we keep on pushing and did not simply give in.
We are excited and ready for this weekend’s race in the UAE Championship.
We are carrying the momentum of the Qatar Championship and we just need to keep going and work hard for a place on the podium.
The grid in the UAE looks decent, we shall have a test on Thursday, and on Friday we will have a warm-up qualifying session and in the afternoon the race will commence.
This year I believe that we have the edge and the experience to perform rather well.
We are feeling confident that we can achieve lap times.
Physically and mentally I am fully ready and dedicated to this sport. I am committed to my diet and I feel that I am in peak form.
When we practice for at the Dubai Autodrome we will work on our starts as on the at the Qatar Championship we were trying new things and thus we got delayed and we could not accelerate quite well.
The Dubai Autodrome is different from the Qatar Championship rally.
With four different layouts and more tight corners the race is more technical and requires more concentration and readiness.
Everything is going according to plan, and with each race we feel that we gain more knowledge and experience regarding all the technical abilities of the bike and the things we can improve on.
It’s a new beginning in the UAE Championship, but we will carry on with the same attitude and commitment.