Rashid Al Dhaheri overcame one of the toughest fields in junior international karting to win the fourth edition of the Trofeo Adria Raceway, in Italy on Sunday, on 9 July 2017.
The nine year old Emirati was one of fifty young drivers from ten different countries in the Mini class (8-12 years), with the majority of competitors from the top Italian junior categories and the prestigious WSK championship.
After two days of practice and testing, at the challenging track on the outskirts of Venice, Al Dhaheri was immediately among the pace setters as they battled it out for top spot on the grid in qualifying.
At the end of the session the Abu Dhabi schoolboy, racing in the colours of the Babyrace Driver Academy, topped the timing sheets and would start the Pre-Final from pole position.
Al Dhaheri was surrounded by the top drivers of his age group. But the top spot start meant little as immediately the order changed with Al Dhaheri in the leading pack but not in the lead. He kept out of trouble and paced himself while keeping the pace setters firmly in his sights.
Towards the end of the eight lap race he was running second, nose to tail with the leader, waiting patiently for the right moment to make his move. On the final lap he attacked, with a gutsy overtake which he made stick and from there was unchallenged to the flag.
In the Final Al Dhaheri, again started from pole, but his engine bogged down just before the start which saw him drop down to second. But the engine recovered and before long he was back in the lead, where he stayed and increased the gap to second place with every lap.
With very little separating the field, let alone the top ten drivers, he kept his nerve in what was a tactical race to take the win.
A late yellow flag caused him to slow down to avoid any transgression, but he remained in the lead until the chequered flag waved and victory was his.
On the podium, watched by his family, the youngster was proud to hear the United Arab Emirates national anthem in recognition of his triumph on the day.
Babyrace Driver Academy’s team manager Sandro Lorandi said: “This was Rashid’s toughest race with a highest quality field of drivers in Mini karting. He made no mistakes all weekend long, was always in good spirits and as a result was the driver to beat.”
“But in the end no one could beat him. He showed great skill and patience in the Pre-Final against the top ranked drivers of his age group. When the time was right, on the last lap, he took the lead and went on to win. In the Final he also showed his awareness by slowing down during the yellow flag period, but never lost his lead. He showed great intelligence and race craft, always with a smile on his face.”
Al Dhaheri said: “It was a good race weekend which I enjoyed. It was very close racing with good drivers to race against. I am happy to win and also hearing the UAE national anthem on the podium – in Italy – was a very proud moment for me.”