On the fast lane: UAE national team topped the MENA Karting Championship in Oman last month. Image Credit: Supplied photo

Dubai: The Sunday showdown between seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen at the F1 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix is the stuff motorracing legends are made of and is capable of inspiring a new generation of young talent in the region, according to rallying legend Mohammed Ben Sulayem.

A FIA Vice President for the MENA region, Ben Sulayem said that motivating them was the sole aim to launch the MENA Karting Nations Cup since last year and felt it’s already paying the dividends.

“It has given many of the region’s top drivers a chance to compete on the same stage for the first time and the early signs are very encouraging,” said Ben Sulayem, also the President of the Emirates Motorsports Organization (EMSO).
 “What we’re noticing is that the best drivers are getting better and those chasing them are also making advancements. This is the basic aim of the MENA Karting Nations Cup – to raise standards all round.
 “In all branches of motorsport, when you come against the best drivers at your level, you quickly get to understand what you need to improve, and get ahead. This is exactly what Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen did during their karting careers. Seeing these two fantastic drivers going head to head in Abu Dhabi on Sunday can only fire up those who dream of following them,” he hoped.
 The MENA Karting Nations Cup is designed as a multi-year development project for young drivers who are the future F1 and rally stars. Last month’s second edition, staged by the Oman Automobile Association at the Muscat Speedway, attracted 138 drivers from 18 countries in the Middle East and North Africa.
 The UAE national team replaced the host country as overall champions with Oman finishing runners-up on this occasion and Lebanon taking third place. In addition, UAE drivers finished on the podium in each of the Rotax Max Challenge (six), RD1 Elite Endurance and RD1 Elite Sprint categories.
 The UAE team comprised of Faris Haroun, Maxim Bobreshov, Kaiden Higgins, Max Murray, Conor Clancy, Harry Hannam, Theo Kekati, Lewis England, Sebastian Murray, Mohammed Matar Al Shamsi, Kyle Kumaran, Aly Beig, Mohamed Haroun, Hussain Umid Ali and Greg Watt.