x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

Kart drivers hope familiarity will lead to hometown cheers

Mohammed Al Dhaheri says his local knowledge may help him and Sheikh Khalid bin Khalifa bring some hometown cheer at Al Ain Raceway next month when they 264 other drivers descend on the track for the Rotax Max Challenge Grand Finals.

ABU DHABI // Mohammed Al Dhaheri believes local knowledge leaves him well placed to supply some local cheer when he competes in the Rotax Max Challenge Grand Finals at Al Ain Raceway next month.

The karting event, which runs from November 19-26, will see 264 drivers from 60 different countries converge on Al Ain to race in four different categories.

Al Dhaheri will represent the UAE in the DD2 class along with Sheikh Khalid bin Khalifa after winning the 2010/11 UAE Championship, and the 24 year old from Al Ain said everything points to him being competitive and challenging for the title.

"I think I will have the speed, it is my home country, and my home city at same time, and it is my home track, so all the signs are looking good and hopefully I will do my best in this event," he said.

"My main goal is to win and to do my country proud."

As well as DD2, which sees drivers racing a kart with a 32.6 horsepower engine, the other categories are Junior Max (20.4 horsepower), the Senior Max (28.5 horsepower) and the DD2 Masters (32.6 horsepower).

Mohammed ben Sulayem, the president of the Automobile and Touring Club of the UAE, is thrilled the event has returned to Al Ain after the emirate first staged the race in 2007 and said he believes it will draw a lot of interest.

"People think it just another event. No. I witnessed it three years ago and I was very impressed by the amount of people that were there at what is the grassroots of motorsport," he said.

Karting is traditionally seen as the first steps to Formula One with most of the grid that will compete in Abu Dhabi in two weeks time having begun their career in a kart. Antonio Kekati, the managing director of Al Ain Raceway, hopes the event will generate more interest in local racers to help them fulfil their objective.

"Our goal at Al Ain Raceway is to establish grassroots of motorsport and develop young talented Emirati drivers to one day achieving their dream of being on the podium of an F1 event representing the UAE," he said.