Dubai Great friends off the track but bitter foes on it – that, in a nutshell, sums up the kind of relationship karting stars Mohammad Al Mutawaa and Rami Azzam share.
The duo are currently 1-2 after the first round of the 2012 Ramadan Challenge being held at the Dubai Kartdrome and ahead of the second round this Friday they tell XPRESS that while they are willing to push each other to the limit, they are only willing to do so without endangering the other’s life.
Emirati Al Mutawaa, who was chosen for the FIA Institute Young Driver Excellence Academy, won the first race and came second the next to lead Azzam by one point going into the second round. And he explained why they like to keep it clean.
“When I started racing, he was one of the first friends I made. He is three years older than me and I learnt a lot from him. But our friendship doesn’t extend to the track. Once I put my helmet on, all friendship is forgotten and we just go for it,” the 18-year-old said.
That may be so, but Al Mutawaa believes in healthy rivalry. “We both know the kind of moves each of us are likely to make on the track, like for instance, in the first race last Friday, I made a unique move and went past him and blocked him till the finish. I tried the same the next race, but he was ready for me. So, while I am willing to make life difficult for him on the track, I will not go over the edge,” he said.
Azzam, on his part, was more dramatic with his take on their rivalry.
“I am willing to fight him till the death and come Friday, we will again be at each other’s throats,” he began. But he toned down his rhetoric, stating: “Whatever we do on the track, we try to keep it clean, like no underhand manoeuvre or something. We know a lot about each other being such close friends, so we have both agreed that however competitive we are on the track, we will not risk the other’s life.”
Azzam, who is also a karting instructor at the Dubai Kartdrome, is just a point behind Al Mutawaa at the top of the standings with the latter holding the edge thanks to his fastest lap last Friday, but the Canadian of Palestinian descent is ready.
“There are two more rounds to go and it is going to be really intense,” he said.