Jo’burg boykie on pace
Alibhai in top 10 on first outing
NINE-YEAR-OLD Johannesburg kart racer Aqil Alibhai put in a splendid performance to come home a fighting sixth in the Formula Super Kart Cadet class Finale in Sunday’s Buckmore Park series opener in Kent, England.
“That was a hard weekend!” the Ormonde lad admitted.
“The racing is far tougher here, but I am very happy to have done so well at a racetrack I have never seen before against top overseas karters in my age group.”
Aqil’s performance was all that much more impressive considering race organisers cancelled Friday practice at the last minute, leaving only Saturday for him to get to know a brand new track. But then it rained to even further complicate the situation, although it did dry up in the afternoon, leaving just three sessions to become familiar with a track most of his rivals quite literally know backwards.
That was not enough to prevent Aqil from turning in a stellar performance to qualify sixth just three-tenths of a second off the pace on Sunday morning in spite of his rhythm being interrupted.
“The team called me in to make a change on my kart when I was lying fourth,” Aqil said. “That’s a pity because I couldn’t get a quick lap in afterwards.”
Aqil had a good start in race 1 to run fifth in the lead bunch for most of the way, only to be taken out on the last lap and drop to seventh.
The second heat went better with Aqil starting sixth, gaining a place at the start and holding on to the finish.
Race three was the highlight of Aqil’s weekend as he came to grips with the track and the team honed his kart set-up to allow him to make a brilliant start to shoot up to second before taking the lead on the second lap and holding on for four laps.
Inevitably the local opposition ganged up to twice shuffle Aqil onto the dirt in three laps and drop him to fourth and later sixth, from which he was unable to pass the lad ahead in spite of a spirited fightback.
So Aqil started the final in sixth and was soon up to fifth and fighting hard to lose contact with the lead bunch before his sixthplaced rival barged into him from behind in the last corner, knocked him into a spin and dropped him to sixth.
“I’m not making any excuses,” Aqil said.
“These guys win in the British championship, so to be on the pace with them in my first race here is great.
“But they race very hard and I need to improve my racecraft to take it back to them. Overall the weekend was a great experience, there are still 15 rounds left and I’ll be back, I’m definitely not giving up!”
Aqil Alibhai (9).