Dubai: Sabah Mukri joins the Dubai Autodrome National Race Series as the first lady sportsbike racer…
Team Pinky’s Racing with Sabah Mukri
In at the deep end!
Two weeks ago I passed my motorcycle race licence here in Dubai so I could realise one of my ambitions, to race a motorcycle in our local race series. I am also hoping that it also encourage other women who regularly ride on the open track days into the sport!
Testing prior to race day is optional but extremely necessary in my opinion, especially for a rookie. Two very important things take place on this day; firstly your bike is scrutineered and if it’s not up to race regulations your tyres aren’t going to touch the track surface! My advice is having someone with race experience work on your bike prior. Secondly you are given the opportunity to ride with your competitors, this is nothing like a regular track day; the pace was much quicker as riders get themselves ‘dialled in’ and up to race pace. Racers pass you a lot closer and faster than ever before, I soon realised what I might expect in the race the following day!
In one day of testing I managed to shave 6 secs off my previous best lap time; I was amazed to see my lap times tumble so quickly during the course of the day.
Friday and race day had arrived, I had been preparing myself and my bike for this moment but nothing quite prepares you for this dawn of reality as I sat in my first riders briefing! With the bike passing through scrutineering with flying colours thanks to all the hard work by Alan Boyter at Vendetta Racing it was finally time to hit the track for the ten minute practise session followed by the ten minute qualifying session to determine my grid position based on my fastest lap time!
Billions of butterflies in my tummy, I told my self was there is no going back now, this is what you worked for and now you’re here enjoy every minute of it. It’s only your first race once! Leaving the grid for the one lap warm up, it was ‘game on’ Unfortunately I fluffed my start as my nerves got the better of me, as the lights went out I launched the bike lifting the front wheel, luckily not too severe and manage to control everything before heading down the straight towards turn one. That image of everyone flying into the first corner crowding into a group will stay with me forever! I regained my focus and tried my best to stay with pack the best I could. Lack of experience caught up with me and I was left at the back but did not give up, I kept fighting, I was here to finish this race. As the faster racers lapped me I was happy for the tow and beat my lap time once again by another second. Filled with happiness I crossed that checker flag, a smile from ear to ear inside my helmet, congratulated by the other racers around me as we all rode into the pit lane together. I will never forget that feeling for as long as I live, my first race completed. I am now officially a sport bike racer!
All Ready and Set to go!!!! Not nervous in the slightest this time, I couldn’t wait to get back out there and line up once again! Dive down that first corner with everyone around me. Feathered that clutch, no way was I making that mistake the second time around, as the lights went out, I was off. I even passed one of the competitors on the straight. This time I managed to stay with the pack for a few laps, I was so pleased with myself. I was determined to finish both races and leave there with a sense of accomplishment. I rode solo again towards the end but I didn’t care because this is only the beginning and I know in no time I will be battling my fellow racers further up towards the front of the pack. As I passed the flag for the end of the second race it all started to sink in. All the doubts, confusions, questions, everything had been answered. Its seat time, following experienced racers, their lines, breaking points, quickening my pace. There is nothing wrong with the bike, the tyres, or the surface, just the voices in your head, playing games, all it needs is a relaxed and confident rider to believe and everything will simply fit in its place….
I’ll be seeing you on the 11th of March, bring it on!