Dubai : Dubai schoolboy Tom Bale is worthy Formula Gulf 1000 champion
7 April 2014-Dubai based Schoolboy Tom Bale is used to being the smallest chap on the podium, but his diminutive figure can be misleading because he has a very big heart as he showed when he powered to the Formula Gulf 1000 championship title in his rookie season.
Bale is a well known face at Dubai Kartdrome having raced at the venue since 2004 when he was merely six years old, fast forward ten years and the 16 year old JESS Arabian Ranches student has racked up three UAE Cadet Championship titles while winning the final round of 2012 CIK FIA Karting Academy Trophy in Bahrain, beating the cream of the world’s kart drivers.
Now, most recently, bagged the Formula Gulf 1000 title but it was not an easy task because Bale missed the first two rounds and was always playing catch-up, which he did winning the series by the tiniest of margins from Saeed Bintouq.
Bale reflected on his season, “I have been strong since the beginning however missing the first two rounds meant I could not lose any more ground. From event number six I calculated there was still a chance to claim the title which thus became my goal.”
The sixteen year old, who cuts a popular figure at the Kartdrome where he still trains on most days of the week, took the Formula Gulf 1000 season by storm when he won on his debut, which also happened to be his first victory in a race car as opposed to a kart.
He ranks that moment highly, “The highlight of the year would have to be my first weekend of racing. Taking pole and winning my first ever car race was an incredible memory from this season.”
However the modest teenager is quick to point out that it was not all plain sailing, “Colliding with my main rival in Round 9 of the championship and being unable to finish the race was the definite low point for me.”
As for his studies Bale admitted, “This year has been difficult as I have important GCSE exams coming up and therefore I have had to reduce my time away from school. Having this great championship close to home has made it easier ensuring I don’t have to travel. However with weekends taken up with racing I have to find time to make sure I find time for my studies.”
The youngster is role model material as despite his intense competitive spirit on track he is laid back and easy going off it, often surrounded by youngsters at the Kartdrome seeking his advice which he gladly gives.
Formula Gulf 1000 series boss Barry Hope is not one to hand out praise to easily, and thus his critique of Bale’s season provides interesting insight.
“Tom was astonishingly successful at both the national and international levels of kart racing. So we were delighted when his father entrusted us with the job of preparing him for his car racing career as this is exactly what Formula Gulf was designed for.
We were impressed with the way he was able to drive the FG11 single seater at his first test session at the Dubai Autodrome when he was 15,” said Hope.
And added, “Tom won 9 of his 12 races, setting pole position at 5 of his 6 events and fastest lap at 10 races. He missed two events and had a DNF after clashing with Bintouq. However he was put under huge pressure, which he handled really well as the championship title was only decided after the last race of the season when Bale and Bintouq ended up with 285 points each. Tom won the title on count-back of most race wins.”
“My feeling is that Tom is one of the few drivers that has what it takes to get to the top. He knows how to win races and championships, he has good people around him, he’s fit and shows great intelligence and commitment. There’s no reason he shouldn’t succeed at higher levels and have a career as a professional driver if that is what he wants to do. He is certainly one of the best prepared drivers we have seen and is a worthy Formula Gulf Champion,” concluded Hope.
Final word to young Bale, who knows only too well that he is part of a team, “I would like to thank the whole Gulfsport team. I have had no mechanical failures, which is a big achievement, so thanks to the mechanics! And of course a big thanks to my family for their constant support and backing.”