29 April 2015
- Steep learning curve continues for Abu Dhabi schoolboy in Italy
- Rashid shows podium potential in highly competitive class
Rashid Al Dhaheri faced a challenging but fruitful weekend in the Parolin Academy Championship at Circuito Internazionale Friuli Venezia Giulia in Lignano, Italy from 24 to 26 April.
The Abu Dhabi schoolboy spent a couple of days before the race weekend testing, and during the course of the five days accumulated a valuable 470 kilometres on track while working on numerous setup changes with his team run by former Italian race driver Fausto Ippoliti.
After his promotion to a higher category earlier this month, thanks to a special dispensation by the Italian Motorsport Federation ACI CSAI in coordination with the ATCUAE, the seven year old is still the youngest in the new category he is contesting, where he is up against older rivals with greater experience.
Nevertheless this did not deter Al Dhaheri as he showed his hand early with a top three lap time in the official free practice session of the weekend. Conditions were new to him as the track built up a thick line of rubber which required him to adjust his driving style accordingly.
In the warm-up Al Dhaheri was again at the sharp end of proceedings and with his pace was looking good for a top three grid spot, but in qualifying he was taken out from the back by an overly ambitious rival which resulted in a bent axle and a ninth place starting position on the grid.
With overtaking places scarce on the tricky, high speed Fruili Venezia track Al Dhaheri finished the first race in eighth.
In the second race the Emirati youngster found good pace before an incident in front of him caused the race to be restarted whereupon he gave a good showing making his way from tenth place to finish sixth, crossing the line in the slipstream of the fifth placed driver.
Team principal Fausto Ippoliti said: “It was a challenging weekend, but Rashid managed it well. Of course we aimed higher, which would have happened with a better qualifying position we would have been fighting with the top drivers. But the positive is that Rashid is gaining lots of experience and I am sure we will see him on podium very soon. He is very motivated and dedicated to this sport. I personally really enjoy working with him as he is a young talent with such a great attitude.”
Ali Al Dhaheri, father of Rashid, summed up the weekend: “Overall it was an intense weekend with lots of experience gained. The biggest lessons this in Lignano were: stay out of trouble and avoid crashes, do a clean qualifying and learn how to overtake on a fast track. Learning by experience are the hard facts of life as a young kart racer.”