Karting: Al Dhaheri gains valuable experience at European Max Challenge Championship in Belgium
Sept 5th Belgium – Twenty-three year old Emirati racing driver Mohammed Al Dhaheri is continuing to advance his knowledge and experience by competing in the European Max Challenge Championship in Belgium this weekend. The series is seen as the top karting Championship in Europe with a host of past, current National, World and European Champions as well as factory teams and drivers.
Mohammed lifted the Al Ain Raceway Kart Club Championship trophy for the premier DD2 class (2-speed shifter) in April at the conclusion of an outstanding first season of competition. In doing so, he qualifies to compete with other regional Champions at this year’s Rotax Grand Finals in Italy in November.
“With the competition being much stronger in Europe I feel I have to get some experience there in order to give me the best possible chance to do well for UAE at the Grand Finals,” said Al Dhaheri. “The grid sizes there are about 4 times the size of UAE and the racing much tougher. There are excellent drivers now in UAE but the European drivers have been competing for years nationally and internationally, with all major factories supporting their own race teams. The regulations are slightly different, too, so I want to make sure I learn as much as possible before November.”
Through his exceptional performances in the UAE Championship, Mohammed has recently secured support from Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority who, with assistance from Al Ain Raceway’s experienced Race Team, have arranged Mohammed’s training and race programme.
The official qualifying session took place on Friday afternoon and Mohammed certainly did not disgrace as he achieved 21st place out of a full grid of 36.
“I can tell he’s disappointed even though he will not admit it,” explains Guy Sheffield, Al Ain Raceway’s Race Team Manager. “He knew he was capable of getting higher up the grid as he was 16th fastest in final practice. But the truth is that 21st in this field is quite excellent when you look at the caliber of the drivers behind him, which include two former British Champions. It is so close here, one tiny mistake can cost you 10 or so places.”
A lap time 0.1s faster would have seen him line up 14th while 0.2s would have placed him 6th! Sheffield continues, “Our telemetry tells us that Mohammed made one small mistake on his flying lap that cost him 0.15s. Now you may think it’s hardly anything but, in this case, it was the difference between 21st and 9th! But this weekend is all about learning as we move into the race part of the event.”
With 2 full days of tough racing to go, Mohammed is looking to gain valuable race practice for the tougher challenge ahead and is realistic about his chances this weekend.
“I have to take it one step at a time. I’m going to try to gain a few places during each race but it is going to be hard because I’ve got 15 drivers behind me all trying to do the same and 20 in front who for sure won’t be giving anything away. If I can get into the top 15 in the Final I will be very happy.”