x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

Search begins at home for Emirati driver to succeed ‘at the top level’

Like 22 other national motorsport authorities, the ATCUAE has also been invited to nominate a driver between the ages of 15 and 23 to take part in the event, one of six regional qualifiers worldwide.

Emirati driver Mohamed Al Mutawaa graduated from the Young Driver Excellence Academy two years ago and is now building his experience in the World Rally Championship. Courtesy WRC
Emirati driver Mohamed Al Mutawaa graduated from the Young Driver Excellence Academy two years ago and is now building his experience in the World Rally Championship. Courtesy WRC

The Automobile and Touring Club of the UAE (ATCUAE) is looking to find the best young Emirati driver to represent the country in the FIA Institute Young Driver Excellence Academy.

Previous academy graduates from the international scheme include Alexander Rossi, Stoffel Vandoorne and Robin Frijns, who have all served as reserve drivers with Formula One teams, and World Rally Championship (WRC) drivers Andreas Mikkelsen, Pontus Tidemand and Craig Breen.

The ATCUAE is staging the Middle East, North Africa and Central Asia regional qualifying event for the 2015 academy at Yas Marina Circuit from September 28 to October 1.

Like 22 other national motorsport authorities from around the region, the ATCUAE has also been invited by the FIA Institute to nominate a driver between the ages of 15 and 23 to take part in the event, one of six regional qualifiers worldwide.

Winners from each gain automatic selection into the fully funded 2015 academy programme, which develops young talent and promotes safety in motorsport. Four more drivers will be selected using a wild-card system.

The ATCUAE will be assessing potential candidates before nominating its representative. Mohammed Ben Sulayem, the ATCUAE president and the vice president of FIA, said: “This is a fantastic opportunity for the region’s best young drivers to develop their skills and enhance their chances of a career in international motor sport.

“Competition for a place in the academy will be tough, but all the participants who come to Abu Dhabi will learn a great deal to help them in their careers.

“The winner will have the chance to follow in the footsteps of other academy graduates who have gone on to drive at the top level.”

Nominated by the ATCUAE, young Emirati Mohamed Al Mutawaa, 21, became the first Arab driver to enter the academy programme two years ago. He has since developed his career with Abu Dhabi Racing in the WRC and Middle East Rally ­Championship.

Mansour Al Helei represented the UAE in last year’s regional qualifying event in Abu Dhabi, where Saudi Arabia’s Abdullah Bamogaddam won a place in the academy.

Al Helei has this year been competing in the Middle East Rally Championship with Abu Dhabi Racing.

The ATCUAE will be assessing potential candidates before nominating its representative in the coming weeks. The 23 drivers will receive four days of world-class training and education in Abu Dhabi.

In addition to learning advanced driving techniques, they will be tutored on modern media techniques, teamwork and psychology, by a team of experts.

The other qualifying events take place in the Netherlands (North Eastern Europe), Croatia (South Western Europe), South Africa (Sub-Saharan Africa), Mexico (Americas) and a joint event for China and Australia (Asia-­Pacific).

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