Rashid Al Dhaheri, overcame one of the toughest fields in junior international karting with a stunning performance to win the fourth edition of the Trofeo Adria Raceway, in Italy on Sunday this weekend.
The nine year-old triumphed over a field of over 50 international drivers in the Mini Class, aged between 8-12, the majority of whom were from the top Italian junior categories and the prestigious WSK championship. After two days of practice and testing, the Abu Dhabi schoolboy signalled his intent early by claiming pole position in qualifying on a hot track that made conditions challenging and careful tyre management essential thanks to an over-abundance of grip.
In the Pre-Final, Rashid started from pole position but dropped a place early on. However, towards the end of the eight lap race he was in a close second, nose to tail with the leader, waiting patiently for the right moment to make his move. On the final lap he attacked, with a gutsy overtake and from there was unchallenged to the flag.
Despite a strong showing all weekend, Al Dhaheri kept his best performance for the final. He started in the lead, but his kart was running slowly as the race began and he was overtaken early on in the first lap. However his engine recovered and he was able to quickly reclaim pole position. For the remainder of the race he built a solid gap over his rivals and despite a yellow flag in the final laps which slowed him considerably he finished in a comfortable first place.
Babyrace Driver Academy’s team manager Sandro Lorandi said: “Stellar racing from Rashid in one of his toughest races yet. He made a perfect start in qualifying and despite the heat, he raced with maturity and intelligence, both in terms of race tactics and managing his tyres. In the Final he also showed his awareness by slowing down for the yellow flag period, but never lost his lead. He showed great race craft, always with a smile on his face. We are very proud of him, he is competing with, some of the top ranked drivers in the world for his age group, and winning, which will be fantastic for his confidence.”
Al Dhaheri said: “In the final the start was really important. So I focused to get a good start and then concentrated on maintaining a gap. I am really happy, it was a fun weekend and I was proud to be on the podium with the UAE national anthem playing.”