Giving it a trial run at the UAE’s first go-karting school in Abu Dhabi
With Formula One such big business in Abu Dhabi, it shouldn’t be any surprise that the country’s first go-kart-racing school has arrived in the capital. Hosted by Al Forsan International Sports Resort, wannabe future F1 racers can learn invaluable advice to improve technical skills and increase confidence at the school. It offers a single class or a bundle of four, teaching future drivers all they need to become the next Lewis Hamilton or Sebastian Vettel. Ahead of the launch, The National sent two intrepid reporters, colleagues and friends Juman Jarallah and Evelyn Lau, on a trial run with racing instructor Nacho Girona. Will it get competitive? Almost certainly...
Juman: The last time I went go-karting, my very tall and heavy male friend used me as a braking system and crashed into my car while trying to overtake me at a turn. My back was bruised for days and my enthusiasm towards racing was curbed. Or should that be kerbed?
Evelyn: This is my first time go-karting. If it’s anything like Mario Kart, I’m in trouble – I’m awful at the video game. Hopefully this will go better.
Juman: An engineer reassures me that the cars have since been modified to include more shock-absorbing padding, and in the unlikely event that I be hit again, I wouldn’t be hurt like I was about five years ago. After a quick safety briefing, we’re suited and booted, and taken to the track.
Evelyn: We’re fitted for helmets and given a safety briefing about what not to do, which includes not getting out of your kart for any reason. Good advice.
Juman: Nacho, who first started go-karting at the age of 4, leads us around the track to show us the best path to drive to make clean turns. Fast drivers, he says, “look like a train” – they don’t slide or drift. He explains that the wider your turn, the straighter your wheels, and the sooner you can accelerate after making a turn.
Evelyn: In the beginning, I’m able to keep up. I let Juman go in front of me because I’m not very confident in my ability. Soon, I’m slowly disappearing into the abyss. I’m too scared to go too fast or take sharp turns in the fear (that I would later learn is aerodynamically impossible) my kart might flip over.
Juman: Nacho makes not drifting around corners sound and look easy, deftly manoeuvring around the track while I skid and screech along in my efforts to keep up with him. After the first lap, I look behind me to find Evelyn has disappeared. A few laps later, we overtake her. Before we’re done, we overtake her twice more.
Evelyn: I have given up trying to catch up. Now I’m just trying to enjoy the view and focus on how to properly turn some of these corners without the fear of hitting something or skidding out of control. Juman whizzes by and even has time to glance back to give me a cheeky wave.
Juman: As Nacho increases our speed with every lap, I’m determined to keep up with him, but my driving gets sloppier as I grow tired, driving over chicanes and not keeping to the lines.
Evelyn: I have counted Nacho and Juman lapping me three times. Even when I try to speed up, my intuition keeps telling me to slow down around the sharp corners. At this rate, I won’t ever catch up with them again.
Juman: Once our session is over, I find myself panting, and the next day, I notice my arms ache. We’re shown our lap times and told that people average one minute and 20 seconds. While I was 10 seconds slower, I’m undeterred.
Evelyn: My time is almost a full minute slower than Juman’s, which doesn’t surprise me. I worry that Nacho is disappointed in me, but he says he understands because it was my first time go-karting. Once I learn I couldn’t have actually flipped over in a go-kart, I realise I could have gone faster.
Juman: I may have missed the, err, kart on a career in racing, but anyone looking to beat their friends or improve their skills would do well to sign up.
Evelyn: My dreams of being the next Nico Rosberg are over. I think I will just stay a spectator in the world of racing.
Packages start from Dh1,100. For more information, visit www.alforsan.com.