Karting Dubai: Rashid Al Dhaheri makes history in Italy

Rashid Al Dhaheri with UAE flag celebrates on the podium in Italy after an historic day for UAE motorsport

Rashid Al Dhaheri made history on Sunday when he became the youngest ever Emirati racing driver to win a race on the international stage as he powered to victory in the Birel EasyKart Trophy at a round of the Italian National Karting Championship in International Circuit of Castelletto di Branduzo, south of Milan.

At the age of 6 years and 40 days the Abu Dhabi primary schoolboy took the victory in race one of the ‘bambino’ category. Rashid – popularly known as the UAE’s ‘Little Alonso’ – was the youngest in a field of 35 drivers in the 6 to 8 age group.

After two days of practice, where he racked up over 250 km on the tricky Circuit of Castelletto, Rashid drew fourth place on the starting grid for Sunday’s race from where the youngster made a great start, fighting his way to the front and claiming a historic victory for him and also UAE motorsport.

In race two Rashid had to start from 31st on the grid, but this did not deter him as he knuckled down to deliver another gutsy performance which saw him end up tenth and overtaking 21 drivers during the course of the ten minute race.

At the end of the day’s racing Rashid, with the UAE flag draped over his small shoulders and sporting a proud smile, received a standing ovation as he received the winner’s trophy for his efforts in the first race.

Rashid’s weekend started with intensive training on a circuit which he had never seen before, however he impressed his Italian technical team with his ability to quickly adapt to the new track and hit the correct racing lines with ease, while showing prodigious determination and speed – all factors in his racing style that are fast becoming his trademarks.

Rashid’s performance, particularly at Castelletto, has impressed important figures in the Italian karting community including ex-Formula 1 driver, Ferrari GT works driver and team principal Gianmaria ‘Gimmi’ Bruni who welcomed Rashid into his team and declared: “I am happy to help Rashid in his racing career path. Since I met him first time I saw passion and determination in his eyes.”

“I had the opportunity to watch him testing recognising a great potential that can be improved step by step. He is still young but if this will be his destiny I am pleased to take him in the right direction,” added the Gimmi Bruni Racing team principal.

Rashid’s father, Ali Al Dhaheri said of the latest development in his son’s career: “We are sure that Gimmi Bruni’s vast knowledge and outstanding experience in motor sports will be an asset for Rashid to learn and grow. We are very proud of this new association.”

With summer now engulfing Europe, Rashid’s programme will step up a notch as race weekends take place every three weeks, with the next round of the Italian Kartding Championship scheduled to take place at Pista Cogiskart di Corridonia, on the outskirts of Rome from 6 to 8 of June.

Final word to Ronni Sala, Birel’s President and promoter of the Easykart Trophy who said of Rashid being the first non-European driver to be accepted into the programme: “For us it has been the first time we had the opportunity to welcome such a young driver from a country outside the European Union and we are very glad to accommodate him. We are sure that his different experience will be important for Italian participants and vice versa.”

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