Abu Dhabi: Rashid Al Dhaheri, UAE’s youngest karting Champion, finished third in the under-11 category in the first round of the Campionato Italiano ACI CSAI at Lonato. Rashid’s podium was the culmination of a challenging weekend where rain wreaked havoc. Despite this challenge the Emirati schoolboy remained undeterred and came in 11th out of a total field of 103 drivers, in Italy.

In the intense weekend of racing, the nine-year-old Emirati and his BabyRace team, with five heats (34 drivers in each heat) started every time in the middle of the tight midfield. A contact at the beginning of qualifying damaged the steering control of Al Dhaheri’s kart and hampered his speed. Nevertheless he continued to make impressive headway in each heat ending the heats in 35th place overall out of the 103 drivers.

Al Dhaheri still made it to the Ripescaggio where he delivered one of his finest performances to date, winning the race and progressed into the all-important Pre Final and Final. He was the only driver from the Arab world in the contest which featured a mix of top Italian and international drivers from 15 different countries.

In the Pre Final, under clear skies, Al Dhaheri made a sluggish start, but dug deep to deliver speed akin to the pace setters at the front, overtaking 13 rivals in the ten lap race to claim a 16th place start for the final and last race of the long weekend.

In the all-important final, heavy downpour resulted in a yellow flag start, for safety reasons. Again Rashid showed a good turn of speed as well as canny race craft taking another 5 places to finish 11th out of 103 and an impressive 3rd in the under-eleven category.

“The weather was a challenge, but at the same time a valuable experience for me. It was a great weekend, we worked hard with the team to make it to the final and to have a very positive result. Being on podium in the Italian Championship is something very special,” said a beaming Al Dhaheri.

On Sunday, Al Dhaheri’s campaign continues at Castelletto di Branduzzo where he will contest Round 5 of the prestigious ROK North Championship.