x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

Al Dhaheri's chances damaged by reckless competitors

The UAE karting champion suffers from bad luck on the circuit in Italy, meaning he has to practically win the last session to qualify for the final.

Mohammed al Dhaheri, the UAE karting champion competing in this weekend's Rotax Max Challenge Grand Finals in southern Italy, was left frustrated yesterday after seeing his chance of direct qualification to tomorrow's final diminish at the hands of his competitors.

The 23-year-old Emirati took part in two qualifying heats yesterday at the La Conca International Circuit in Apulia, Italy.

In the first heat, having started on the 15th row of the grid, he quickly climbed to 13th before being forced to swerve to avoid an accident and colliding with another kart. When he rejoined the pack, he found himself last, in 36th place, but fought hard to finish 28th.

In the day's second session, al Dhaheri - who drives at the Al Ain Raceway - started solidly and reached as high as 11th before his kart was clipped as he turned a corner. He re-entered in 22nd place and finished 20th. The results mean he practically needs to win in today's final session if he is to qualify directly for tomorrow's final. If he fails to qualify through the three heats, he has one further opportunity in the "last chance race", where he will need to finish in the top six from a field of more than 40.

"It is a big ask now," al Dhaheri said. "It is frustrating, obviously, as neither of the incidents were my fault, but I just have to suck it up. As long as I continue to do my best and do my country proud, I cannot complain. I am just happy to be here."

The UAE was also represented by Edward Jones who finished third and ninth in the Junior Max category. Maurits Knopjes was 24th and 19th in the Senior Max sessions and Arnaud Bouf came 25th in his final race in the DD2 Masters.

gmeenaghan@thenational.ae