A team of UAE kart racers have dedicated their sensational victory in France to Christophe Hissette, one of the region's top drivers who died in a crash last month. The four-man team, NFM Professionals, led by Sheikh Hasher al Maktoum, topped a 42-strong field to win the 24 hours Racing Kart de Cormeilles. Hissette, 29, died on April 23 after his car hit a trackside barrier at the Dubai Autodrome during the GulfSport Radical Cup qualifying session. And the accident was clearly on the kart team's minds.
Elated and clearly emotional, the drivers, also including Saeed al Mehairi, Ramez Azzam and Alban Varutti, a Frenchman, stood proudly on the top step of the podium of the circuit near Paris, on Sunday, to receive their first-place trophy, clutching the UAE flag proudly as the anthem played. "Thank you to everyone who supported us," the team said in a statement. "We dedicate this hard-earned victory to Christophe Hissette and his family."
David Terrien, the organiser of the Dubai Kartdrome 24-hour karting championship, paid tribute to the team. "In the light of the sad and stressful week that the UAE motorsport community has undergone, this victory by the NFM Professionals in France is massive. Really an unbelievable effort, with great management by Mike Wilkes assisted by Frederic Gerbier. "You simply could not script such a scenario. The touching circumstances of this victory will go down in history of motorsport in the UAE and there is no better way to honour the memory of Christophe Hissette."
The NFM Professionals qualified for the race after winning the 2009 Nivea for Men Endurance Challenge which entitled the champion team, from the Dubai Kartdrome-based 24 hours series, to contest the prestigious race in France alongside top endurance karting teams. Managed by Wilkes and assisted by Gerbier, the NFM Professionals showed their intent early by taking pole position in qualifying with Varutti in inspired form.
When the chequered flag finally dropped it was a famous victory for the UAE team, who completed 1,143 laps, three more than second-placed CER Racing. Excuz France 1 finished third. * Agency