Humaid Al Masaood can look forward to the next round of the American Le Mans Series (ALMS) with his confidence sky high after becoming the first Emirati to take part in top-flight sports car racing and earning a podium finish.
Al Masaood and Stephen Kane, his British teammate, finished third in Saturday’s race at the American Le Mans Northeast Grand Prix at Lime Rock Park, Connecticut in their Mazda Lola Coupe, which is run by ALMS teams points leader, Dyson Racing, in conjunction with the Oryx Racing team that Al Masaood owns.
The Emirati now hopes that competing in the top echelon of motorsport will help encourage others to follow in his path along with the increasing track options in the UAE, led by Yas Marina Circuit, the home of the Formula One Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
“I hope that what I am doing can show other people in the UAE and in the region that we can compete at this level,” Al Masaood said yesterday.
“The UAE is improving in the facilities that people have in which to try racing. Yas Island is a fantastic facility and we are lucky to have it on our doorstep. In the United States people sometimes have to go three, four or five hours to get to their nearest track.”
Al Masaood and Kane are using the rest of the ALMS season as a learning curve for competing in a full championship schedule in the future, and the Abu Dhabi-based racer said he was thrilled to get a podium finish in their first start.
“It was fantastic and a really unbelievable feeling,” he said of climbing on the podium. “We had hoped to just bring the car home and to not only do that but get third place is fantastic.”
The result was impressive as an electrical problem had forced them to start from last place in the pit lane, after they had qualified in second place on the grid.
But Al Masaood overtook a number of cars during his stint in the race, which lasted two hours 45 minutes, moving up to seventh spot before he handed over to Kane, who brought the car home in third.
Al Masaood is hopeful more is to come from his partnership with Kane. “This was our first time setting up the car ourselves and to be very close to the pace, if not matching it, in our first race is very encouraging,” he said.
“I’d hope in the coming races we can build on this and score more podiums, challenge for pole positions and also get a couple of race wins.”
Every track in the North American series is new for Al Masaood, but a race he is looking forward to is the street race in Baltimore in September.
“I have never done a street race before and the race in Baltimore is on a street track, so that will be an experience,” he said.
“This is the first time this event will have been held so it will be a new experience for everyone and that should make it interesting.” The fourth round of the series is at the Mosport International Raceway in Ontario, Canada, on July 24.
* Compiled with agencies