Jo’burg boykie on pace

Alib­hai in top 10 on first out­ing

The Witness - Wheels - - RACING -

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!”

PHOTO: SUP­PLIED

Aqil Alib­hai (9).

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