Having spent past few days celebrating, first Emirati FIM world champion training for series opener in Dubai in March
Mohammed Al Balooshi shifts focus on new season days after winning historic FIM world title
Less than a week after becoming the UAE's first ever FIM world champion, Mohammed Al Balooshi has cast his eyes on the new season.
Al Balooshi clinched the Bajas World Championship in Hungary on Saturday after braving heavy rain, treacherous conditions and mechanical problems in the final round.
The Emirati struggled with his KTM’s petrol pump, which continued failing when making contact with water, and he also incurred a penalty. But the advantage the veteran of 15 years had 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'.
As a result, Al Balooshi also became the first Arab and Asian to win a world title in the FIM Off Road series.
Having spent much of the past few days celebrating with family and friends, Al Balooshi has already started training for the series opener in Dubai in March.
“I soaked in as much as I could on the day, but winning the world title is behind me now,” he told The National.
Being the defending champion, Al Balooshi is aware he will be the man his rivals will be looking to beat when action resumes next year. But he is confident his experience will come in handy.
Stresses and strains are a part and parcel of competing, he said, and "the pressure is always there whether you are the world champion or not".
“I have been in this game for 20 years and can handle the pressure. I have won many titles, and the world title was a culmination of those successes I had in the past."
He denied there was such a thing as home advantage in his sport, saying: “It’s nice to start at a familiar venue, but those competing alongside me are all well experienced, with hundreds of races behind them.”
So how does he intend to prepare for the new season? Much the same way he has been for the past nearly two decades, he said.
A perfectionist who believes in not only having a plan but also writing it down, Al Balooshi said, "this is the best way you can achieve your objectives".
“You can see what you have done and what you have achieved when you have it on print. I don’t show this to people but that’s how I plan my season. I don’t want to think anything other than racing when I start competing.”
Training is important for riders – he believes "the fitter you are the easier it becomes". But he stressed that "improvement on the bike [is just as important] to keep up with the others".
Al Balooshi was involved with football, martial arts and body building before his life changed at 19, when he discovered the joys of motorcycle racing. And once it became a passion, he said he remained dedicated towards his craft.
“I have been a professional in the sport for 15 years. It’s a lot of time and sacrifices,” he said.
“The efforts and the injuries that I had to overcome ... I remained humble and have been trying and trying. And finally to become a world champion was a dream come true for me."
Now, he wants to do it all over again.