Rashid Al Dhaheri, UAE’s youngest karting Champion, placed third in the under-eleven category in the first round of the Campionato Italiano ACI CSAI at Lonato. Rashid’s podium was the culmination of a challenging weekend where weather wreaked havoc with the racing. Despite this challenge the Emirati schoolboy remained undeterred and came in 11th out of a total field of 103 drivers, in Italy.
The South Garda Lonato track is a legendary karting venue, and has played host to many of the current Formula 1 drivers including the likes of Lewis Hamilton, Sebastian Vettel, Daniel Riccardo, Daniil Kvyat and Max Verstappen.
It was an intensive weekend of racing for nine year old Emirati and his BabyRace team, with five heats (34 drivers in each heat) in which he started every time in the middle of the tight midfield. This was as a result of an unfortunate contact at the beginning of Qualifying which damaged the steering control on his kart and hampered his speed. Nevertheless he continued to make impressive headway in each heat ending the heats in 35th place overall out of the 103 drivers.
As a result of this he made it through to the Ripescaggio where he delivered one of his finest performances to date, winning the race and progressing him to the all-important Pre Final and Final. He was the only driver from the Arab world in the contest which featured a mix of top Italian and international drivers from 15 different countries.
In the Pre Final, under clear skies, Al Dhaheri made a sluggish start, but dug deep to deliver speed akin to the pace setters at the front, overtaking 13 rivals in the ten lap race to claim a 16th place start for the Final and last race of the long weekend.
In the all-important Final, pouring rain resulted in a yellow flag start, for safety reasons. Again Rashid showed a good turn of speed as well as canny race craft taking another 5 places to finish 11th out of 103 and an impressive 3rd in the under-eleven category.
BabyRace team owner Sandro Lorandi summed up: The first round of the 2017 Campionato Italiano was very crowded this weekend having more than 100 drivers competing in several heats.”
“Rashid confirmed his talent, overcoming the mechanical issues in qualifying, making solid progress in the heats and winning the Ripescaggio. He showed impressive skills and tenacity in Race 1 and Race 2 under vastly varying weather conditions, which makes Rashid a complete driver.”
“It is very rare to find such a talented, motivated and skillful driver at such a young age. Rashid had a cool head, resisted to the pressure intensified by the changeable weather conditions.”
Al Dhaheri said: “The weather was a challenge but at the same time a valuable experience for me. It was a great weekend, we worked hard with the team to make it to the Final and to have a very positive result. Being on podium in the Italian Championship is something very special.”
On 7 May, Al Dhaheri’s campaign continues at Castelletto di Branduzzo where he will contest Round 5 of the prestigious ROK North Championship.