Prodigy Rashid tipped to be UAE’s po­ten­tial F1 driver

Khaleej Times - - NATION - Ash­wani Ku­mar

abu dhabi — UAE kart­ing sen­sa­tion Rashid Al Dha­heri had an ex­cep­tional sea­son with 14 podium fin­ishes, eight of them in first place and all this from 23 races.

Dha­heri is all of eight years but has es­tab­lished him­self in the lo­cal cir­cuit by win­ning ev­ery­thing he com­peted for. “This sea­son has been fan­tas­tic for me. I am very happy,” he said dur­ing a me­dia in­ter­ac­tion.

So, how good was Dha­heri’s sea­son? He won the Dubai O Plate ti­tle for the third time and IAME X30 UAE Cham­pi­onships in Dubai Kart­dome and Ras Al Khaimah. He was hon­oured with the ‘Mohamed bin Rashid Al Mak­toum Cre­ative Sport Award’.

More im­por­tantly, the year saw his grad­u­a­tion to in­ter­na­tional scene – Italy and also the next age band – 8 to 12, with him be­ing the youngest.

“Italy was hard as the cat­e­gory was new to me but I gave my best. I am happy with my achieve­ments as I am the youngest in the group and did well. I am look­ing for­ward to next year,” he said.

Dha­heri com­peted and won or made it to the podium in almost ev­ery

It’s go­ing to be Mercedes driver Nico Ros­berg. It will be tough for Lewis Hamil­ton Rashid Al Dha­heri

race — the Parolin Academy Cham­pi­onship, the ROK Cham­pi­onship, Ital­iano Cam­pi­onato and the WSK Se­ries. The WSK Cham­pi­onship is the big­gest and tough­est kart­ing event in the world with up to 90 top in­ter­na­tional driv­ers com­pet­ing in the mini cat­e­gory alone. What are the lessons learnt? “I learned never to give up and to give my best. I learn from my mis­takes.”

On how he bal­ances stud­ies and rac­ing, he said: “I try to learn as much as I can when I go to school. I get good sup­port from school too. I also go on­line and up­date my­self.”

Rashid joined Ital­ian ‘Babyrace’ team, which un­der­takes driv­ers’ de­vel­op­ment pro­grammes from kart­ing to GP3. How was his ex­pe­ri­ence so far at ‘Babyrace’?

“I learned how to man­age starts, when to block and over­take, when it’s time to catch oth­ers. In Italy, the grade is big­ger with cat­e­gory from 8 to 12 years. It’s very com­pet­i­tive and got all kind of cli­mate. The com­pet­i­tive­ness in Italy is bet­ter than the UAE,” Dha­heri said.

Dha­heri keenly fol­lows For­mula One and his favourite driver is McLaren-Honda driver Fer­nando Alonso.

Who do you see win­ning the ti­tle at the Yas Ma­rina Cir­cuit?

“It’s go­ing to be Mercedes driver Nico Ros­berg. It will be tough for Lewis Hamil­ton,” Dha­heri said.

‘Babyrace’ team founder and owner San­dro Lo­randi said he had heard about Rashid and was im­pressed by what he saw.

“He is young, tal­ented, and in­tel­li­gent and has pas­sion for the sport even for one so young. He also has the sup­port of his fam­ily, he could po­ten­tially be an F1 driver in 10 years. The best driv­ers who want to com­pete glob­ally come to Italy. The likes of Se­bas­tian Vet­tel, Lewis Hamil­ton, Kimi Raikko­nen and Nico Ros­berg all came to For­mula One from Ital­ian kart­ing scene.” How you came to know about him? “I heard about him last year and he im­pressed me for a seven-yearold. Rashid can be first driver from this re­gion to be known glob­ally. Win­ning races in Europe is recog­nised world­wide. We have a three year con­tract. In his cat­e­gory we have seven driv­ers. He learns very fast and is ready to work.”

On way for­ward for the eightyear-old tal­ent, he said: “Dha­heri will undergo three-year phase and when he is 14 years old, he will take For­mula 4 tests and by 15 years – le­gal age of driv­ing – he can drive for F4. To reach that po­si­tion, he needs to be con­sis­tent. He will go from GP3 to GP2 and For­mula One. We can make him an ex­pert driver… an ex­pert For­mula One driver.”

Rashid’s 2017 sea­son, will see him par­tic­i­pate in the Ital­ian WSK Cham­pi­onship, the Ital­ian ‘ROK Cham­pi­onship’, UAE Ro­tax Max Cham­pi­onship of course UAE X30 Emi­rates Chal­lenge Cham­pi­onship, where he is lead­ing on the Cham­pi­onship, de­spite be­ing the youngest driver in the field.

Sup­plied photo

UAE kart­ing sen­sa­tion Rashid Al Dha­heri (cen­tre) ad­dresses the me­dia in the Cap­i­tal. —

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