UAE: Young drivers battle it out for place in FIA Institute Young Driver Excellence Academy
Dubai, UAE, 28 September 2014: Performances on and off the track at Abu Dhabi’s Yas Marina Circuit this week could help carve out an exciting future in motor sport for one of 15 young drivers assembled from around the Middle East, North Africa and Central Asia.
Over the next three days, the candidates for a place in next year’s FIA Institute Young Driver Excellence Academy face a thorough examination not only of their driving skills, but also of their ability to handle the physical and psychological demands of professional motor sport.
“Any young driver aiming go get to the top must be highly disciplined and committed in many ways, and we’re going to find out this week who has what it takes,” said Mohammed Ben Sulayem President of the Automobile and Touring Club of the UAE.
“It’s going to be a demanding three days, and the driver who comes out on top will have to work hard on and off the track to win the big prize at stake. They all know that the Academy can do an enormous amount for a young driver’s career, so competition will be tough.”
The Academy has driven a number of its graduates to high places, with Andreas Mikkelsen, Pontus Tidemand and Craig Breen emerging in the World Rally Championship, and Alexander Rossi, Stoffel Vandoorne, and Robin Frijns becoming Formula One reserve drivers.
The ATCUAE is staging one of the six regional qualifiers worldwide that will deliver ten drivers into the fully funded 2015 Academy programme, which develops young talent and promotes safety in motor sport.
Among those battling to win the one Academy place available in Abu Dhabi this week are the UAE’s Mansour Al Helei, Kuwait’s Ali Makhseed, Oman’s Anas Al Raeesi, Jordan’s Nabeeh Muammar, Lebanon’s Patrick Njeim and Saudi Arabia’s Abdullah El Khereiji.
They were joined at an official reception in Abu Dhabi tonight (Sunday) by the nine other regional candidates, Panikos Polykarpou (Cyprus), Ahmed Sherif (Egypt), Seyedmahyar Mirmoradi (Iran), Petr Borodin (Kazakhstan), Ismail Hassine Tadlaoui (Morocco), Suleiman Abdelmunim Suleiman (Sudan), Ahmad Krizan (Syria), Bardo Ben Abdallah Sofien (Tunisia) and Shalva Tsikhelashvili (Georgia).
Following a friendly karting event later at Yas Race School, the serious business begins tomorrow (Monday) morning with the first in a series of driving exercises, followed by off track sessions on career management and physiological and psychological testing.
The driving sessions, using four brand new Nissan 370Zs provided by Nissan Middle East, are being managed by Saeed Al Mehairi, an instructor at Yas Marina Circuit, and Mohammed Al Mutawaa, who became the first Arab driver to be admitted into the Academy in 2012. He now competes with Abu Dhabi Racing in both the FIA Middle East Rally Championship and the FIA World Rally Championship.
Taking charge of the physiological and psychological testing are sports scientists Professor Gareth Davison from the University of Ulster, Northern Ireland, and Dr. Tadhg MacIntyre from the University of Limerick in Ireland. Completing the team of experts is Tom Onslow-Cole, a professional racing driver now competing in the British GT Championship, who will conduct sessions on media training, sponsorship and career development.
On Wednesday, a judging panel consisting of the FIA Institute’s Kate Robson, ATCUAE Motorsport Director Ronan Morgan and Onslow-Cole, will interview each of the drivers. The top five selected based on overall performance during the week will then tackle a timed lap of the Yas Marina Circuit prior to the winner being announced.