x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 January 2018

Lack of sponsors hurting the prospects of kart drivers

Middle East drivers need sponsorship if they are to race in Europe to improve their skills.

Bigger grids, like the ones seen at the Rotax Max Challenge Grand Finals in Al Ain, is the appeal of racing in Europe for Middle East drivers.
Bigger grids, like the ones seen at the Rotax Max Challenge Grand Finals in Al Ain, is the appeal of racing in Europe for Middle East drivers.

AL AIN // Mohammed Al Dhaheri had a frustrating week at the Rotax Max Challenge Grand Finals at Al Ain Raceway as collisions with rivals scuppered his hopes of making the final of the DD2 category.

The disappointment has not put the Emirati off competing, but he believes that if he is to become more competitive he needs to race more often in Europe, but cannot do that without sponsorship to help deal with the travel costs he faces to compete.

Al Dhaheri races on small grids in the UAE, normally between 10-20 karts, while at the Rotax Max finals he was competing against 33 other drivers in every heat.

The 25 year old from Al Ain said: "The only thing I really lacked was experience as these are bigger grids we race on then I am used to in the UAE. That is why I wish someone would sponsor me and take me to Europe to give me a couple of [Rotax Max] Euro Challenge races just to get into the groove of being as aggressive as the other guys, because over here the competition is limited."

Al Dhaheri said it has been a frustrating experience trying to get companies in the UAE to get behind him, and it has been the same experience for Suleiman Al Rawahi, the father of the Omani brothers Abdullah and Sanad, who raced in the Junior and Senior Max categories respectively.

He took the boys to England in the summer to race at the Under 18 World Championship, and wants them to continue driving in Europe to test themselves, but says he needs financial help.

"A lot of companies when we go asking for support they look at karting as a hobby," Suleiman said. "They do not see the level of seriousness in it."

He added: "The two of them are the perfect example of young Arab drivers in the region who have the potential to go on.

"They have competed in Europe and been competitive there and have been very strong here, but they need to do more races in Europe to continue improving.

"Once you race in Europe the price doubles and we do not have a lot of support here.

"I have to bring mechanics. Before I used to do what ever I can, but now they have overgrown me and it is more than I can handle so I have to bring mechanics to the races, so that is of course extra tickets, accommodation, their daily fees.

"I don't look at it like I am throwing money at it. As long as the kids are learning and enjoying themselves it is worth it and I think they both have the potential to go on. But if they are to keep progressing I cannot do it alone."