DUBAI Teenage rookie Shahaan Engineer had taken a big risk when he moved from karting to participate in the Formula Renault 2.0 Northern European Cup (NEC) a year ago without any single-seater experience.
But he had the belief in him and that paid off. He is now creating ripples in Europe after he claimed a double podium at Zandvoort, penultimate race of the season, last Sunday.
“It’s an incredible feeling especially because Zandvoort is such an historic and challenging circuit to race on,” said Shahaan, who was born in Mumbai but moved to Dubai at the age of four where he strengthened his karting career.
“It’s been an exciting weekend. Getting two podiums and pole position feels great but, more importantly, I’m pleased to have scored well in all three races,” he added.
The 17-year-old Fortec Motorsports driver, who is the youngest competitor in the pan-European series, starred in the qualifying with his maiden car racing pole position. He then bagged his first podium during round 17 and added another second place finish in the last race.
“It was my first ever car racing podium and the feeling of standing there was amazing. Now that the weekend is over, I am thrilled with my finish of back to back podiums. I’m sure the win will come soon. The good things in life are always worth waiting for,” he said on missing out closely to finish on the top.
The victory has given him a total of 63 points across the three races and helped him surge from 11th in the championship to seventh place.
“Now I feel more sure of myself and more certain of what I am doing because I am achieving what I have always worked for,” said Shahaan, praising his team efforts. “We are one big results oriented family and this weekend I was able to convert their hard work into podium finishes.
“I want to be the very best that I can be and see where that leads me,” he said on his goals. “It has been challenging, but now I know what it feels like to have the rewards for all the hard work, I am determined to reach my ultimate goal.”
After Shahaan’s parents moved to Dubai in 1999, he had the opportunity to strengthen his racing skills in a very competitive karting environment. “I enjoyed karting in Dubai however all my car racing and testing has been in the UK, Europe and New Zealand.”
Paul Velasco, Communications Manager of Dubai Autodrome, said: “When he was racing locally some years ago, he would be testing and training just about every day under the expert guidance of Richie McLeod. His commitment and dedication unwavering, there was something about him that stood out and soon he was shining on the UAE karting scene.
“His family particularly his father Sharokh Engineer gave him incredible support. This network around him coupled to his undeniable talent is ingredients which I believe set the stage for him to thrive in the future.”
Jamie Dye, team manager of Fortec Motorsports, said: “Shahaan did a great job all weekend and really showed us his talent. Shahaan is, for sure, one to watch in the future – he is ready to be picked up by someone big.”
Shahaan will be in action again in the season’s last race at Spa — Francorchamps (Belgium) next month.