Duo on track for rac­ing show­down

Post - - Sport - KAMLESH GOSAI

TWO mo­tor­sport en­thu­si­asts will go head-to-head in the fi­nal lap of the VW Driver Search competition in Port Elizabeth this week­end as they chase their dreams to race pro­fes­sion­ally.

Dur­ban’s Raais As­mal, 19, and Talha Moosajee, 21, of Jo­han­nes­burg, will to­mor­row fly to Port Elizabeth where fi­nal prepa­ra­tions will be made for Satur­day’s show­down.

The duo will share a car, with 2016 Volk­swa­gen Driver Search win­ner Jonathan Mo­gotsi in the Port Elizabeth 3-Hour En­durance Race at the Aldo Scrib­ante track.

The over­all win­ner will be an­nounced at the Zwartkops Race­way in Cen­tu­rion a week later at the last race meet­ing of the year. The ul­ti­mate win­ner could earn a drive with Volk­swa­gen Mo­tor­sport in the 2018 En­gen Volk­swa­gen Cup, the same competition that Mo­gotsi fea­tures reg­u­larly in.

It was at Zwartkops in Pre­to­ria in late Septem­ber that As­mal and Moosajee beat off competition from 12 other hope­fuls to be­come the fi­nal­ists in the competition aimed at un­earthing black rac­ers. Both have am­bi­tions be­yond the do­mes­tic track, with As­mal hope­ful of reach­ing the global For­mula One cir­cuit, and Moosajee de­ter­mined to fol­low his child­hood off-road rac­ing dream of com­pet­ing in the Dakar Rally.

“From the age of 3 I’ve been rac­ing off-road, four-wheel­ers and quad track un­til I started kart­ing at the age of 7,” said Moosajee, who orig­i­nally hails from Polok­wane.

“It has been a life­long dream to get into some­thing like this.

“If I win I can get into VW Mo­tor­sports for 2018, but my ab­so­lute goal is to get a spon­sor and do the Dakar.

“This is a way for me to show po­ten­tial spon­sors what I can do.”

It isn’t a far-fetched dream. Moosajee is al­ready well greased in mo­tor oil. While study­ing fi­nance through Unisa he works in the ware­house of the fam­ily-run tyre fit­ment busi­ness.

His fa­ther, Naeem, is a reg­u­lar on the cross-coun­try scene where South Africa’s for­mer Dakar cham­pion Giniel de Vil­liers also races.

To reach his goal, Moosajee has al­ready cal­cu­lated the cost. “It takes a lot. The es­ti­mate cost to do the Dakar with one car and one me­chanic is R12 mil­lion, and I want to get into it be­fore I turn 25.”

Since reach­ing the fi­nal, Moosajee has stepped up a gear, work­ing six days a week with a per­sonal trainer to im­prove his fit­ness and his men­tal fo­cus.

As­mal also got into rac­ing through the in­flu­ence of his fa­ther, Is­mail. The sec­ond-year me­chan­i­cal en­gi­neer­ing stu­dent at UKZN raced karts as a young­ster. He fin­ished fourth na­tion­ally in the GP Ju­nior class in 2010, but stopped be­cause of the high costs.

“Kart­ing was get­ting ex­pen­sive and I stopped in 2012, but ever since I’ve been look­ing for a way back into rac­ing. When I heard about this Driver Search I went for it. I don’t want to win just for the sake of win­ning. I want to im­press the judges to race next year, be­cause I see that as a way of one day reach­ing F1.

“I haven’t had any track time, but I’ve been work­ing on my fit­ness lev­els, watch­ing YouTube videos of the race tracks, and play­ing Gran Turismo (a rac­ing game) to keep fo­cused,” said As­mal, who sup­ports the Fer­rari F1 team.

ABOVE: Dur­ban me­chan­i­cal en­gi­neer­ing stu­dent Raais As­mal.

RIGHT: Talha Moosajee is one of the fi­nal­ists for the Volk­swa­gen Driver Search competition which con­cludes in Port Elizabeth this week­end. His op­po­nent is Raais As­mal of Dur­ban.

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