Young Emirati karting ace Rashid Al Dhaheri has added to his reputation as one of the Arab world’s rising motor sport stars with a terrific victory in the prestigious 25th Winter Cup in Lonato, Italy.
The 11-year old, chasing his dream to become a Formula One driver, produced a remarkable performance to clinch the Mini Rok title in a field of 64 drivers at the famous South Garda Karting circuit.
In the 12-lap final he shrugged off a powerful challenge from top young Russian drivers Dimtiry Matveev and German Foteev to advance his excellent winning record in Italy.
More than 300 drivers from 47 countries were in action at the weekend in the season-opening Winter Cup in Lonato, which has provided a ladder into Formula One for drivers including former F1 champion Jenson Button and present day star Max Verstappen.
Rashid’s current race triumph comes as a study is being carried out in the UAE to assist the MENA region develop world champions in motor sport.
Commissioned by Emirates Motorsports Organization (EMSO) President Mohammed Ben Sulayem, the study is led by Professor David Hassan, one of the world’s leading professionals in sport management, and will be completed in the next six weeks.
“Rashid’s performance at the weekend again underlined his enormous potential, and is a perfect example of the kind of young talent we have in this region which wants to be developed,” stated Sulayem, the FIA regional Vice President for Sport.
“The goal of the study is to discover methods to attract more young people into motor sport and create a talent development model to turn our best young drivers into world champions.”
Sulayem feels another step in that direction was taken last week in Oman with the launch of the MENA Karting Championship Nations Cup, designed as a multi-year development project for young drivers who are the region’s future F1 and rally stars.
Organised by the Oman Automobile Association and staged at Muscat Speedway, the inaugural event saw the host country emerge as the first Nations Cup winners, with Morocco finishing runners up and the UAE claiming the third podium place.