Rashid Al Dhaheri’s kart racing exploits have been well documented over the past two years, his rise through the ranks in the UAE and Italy has been well covered and now his young career has taken him to China where in his first race in that country he powered to a clean-sweep of victories flying the UAE flag on his chest.
The Abu Dhabi schoolboy made his debut in the China ASEAN ROK Cup at the Nanning International Karting track, where he lined up with other drivers to context the 60cc Mini Class.
The event consisted two back-to-back days of qualifying and racing last weekend.
On Saturday, Al Dhaheri qualified fastest to take pole position by three-tenths of a second over his nearest rival. In both heats, he controlled the pace and emerged a comfortable winner in the final to score his first victory on Chinese soil.
Sunday was almost a carbon copy of the previous day, with Al Dhaheri taking pole again, this time by three-quarters of a second. In the first heat, he was chased hard but took the honours as he did again in the second heat.
The skies opened up over Nanning in the afternoon just in time for the final, but this did not deter the Emirati youngster, who mustered all his experience – having raced in the wet often in Italy – and delivered an impressive performance, winning by a minute and almost lapping the entire field despite the challenging and tricky conditions.
His victory on the second day underlined a fine performance where he was unbeaten in the Mini Class throughout the weekend, a clean-sweep.
The event in southern China attracted numerous racing fans to the venue, with organisers delivering a quality weekend of racing with a big media presence, F1-style press conferences with drivers, grid and pit walk where numerous enthusiastic fans got to meet drivers.
They were warm and welcoming to young Al Dhaheri, keen to have photos taken with the ten-year-old karting prodigy from the UAE.
Rashid reflected: “It was great, I enjoyed the fans here, I never signed so many autographs. People are friendly and it is always a good feeling to win on a new track in a new championship.”
Long time coach and ex-Formula 2 Champion, Italian Fausto Ippoliti, was on hand to support Al Dhaheri throughout the weekend and summed up: “It was a great experience for Rashid, his first race in the ROK ASEAN ROK Cup competition where the track, the conditions, the atmosphere and even certain rules were all new to him.”
“I was very impressed with Rashid’s capacity to rapidly adapt to this new environment, new track and setting up the kart to get the pole position very effectively. This shows how he has evolved with experience and drives with a maturity that belies his age,” concluded Ippolitti.
After his successful debut karting race weekend, in China, Al Dhaheri will return to action for the Italian Championship in Sarno on 9-10 July 2018.