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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 20 November 2018

Mohammed Al Balooshi becomes first Emirati to win FIM world title

Success in Hungary sees UAE rider win Bajas World Championship

Mohammed Al Balooshi competes during the Bajas World Championship in Hungary . Courtesy Sports 2
Mohammed Al Balooshi competes during the Bajas World Championship in Hungary . Courtesy Sports 2

Mohammed Al Balooshi has become the UAE's first ever FIM world champion after clinching the Bajas World Championship in Hungary on Saturday.

The weekend was filled with drama at Veszprén, the picturesque city hosting the last round of the World Cup in Hungary, which constitutes at the same time one of the oldest urban areas of the region. Heavy rain over the past week ravaged the rally terrain, resulting in many areas of the planned route of the race becoming inaccessible to riders.

The Emirati becomes the first Arab to win a world title in FIM Off Road series.

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Exultant, yet exhausted, Balooshi said: “I am very happy to have been able to put this medal to the achievements of the UAE. Our country came a long way in the motorsport and it’s an honour to be able to make this humble contribution, and a motive of great pride to have my name next to the UAE flag, engraved forever in the FIM records.

"I hope to also represent well the Arab world and do justice to so many great athletes who work hard, and keep pushing their limits, always following their passion. I’m struggling with words right now to describe how proud and happy I feel for me and my team, for my country, for the sport."

The last day at Hungarian Baja started with rain and changing terrain. Al Balooshi also had to battle with mechanical problems, struggling with his KTM’s petrol pump, which continued failing when getting in touch with water. The 15-year veteran incurred a penalty during the race but his advantage accumulated earlier in the race and over the course of the season allowed him to sustain his position and emerge as the new King of Bajas.

Mahir Badri, managing director at Sports2, the engine behind Al Balooshi's International Race Programme, said: “This achievement is the result of very hard work, a lot of talent, and a strong belief ... We believed we could win this for our people and today the dream is a reality."