Abu Dhabi: UAE’s karting sensation Rashid Al Daheri. who finished 2015 on high, has set his sights high on the 2016 season.
The seven-year-old, also known as ‘Little Alonso,’ has been nominated for the Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Creative Sports Award in the Local Young Athlete category.
He made everyone sit back and take notice of his talent by finishing second overall in the Parolin Academy Championships in Italy earlier this year.
The accomplishment was all the more significant given the fact that he missed out on the opening round for not fulfilling the age criteria, being too young.
It was blow for Rashid but he came back strongly and won back-to-back races to eventually finish second overall.
“Had I taken part in the first round, I would have won the title,” says a beaming Rashid, adding: “I missed out by just 11 points and that not so big. So I’m happy with the way I did in my first season in Italy.”
Rashid also gave enough evidence of having a cool and mature head over his young shoulders by saying that he still has a long way to go but was up for the challenge. “It will be tough this coming year but I want to keep learning and working hard. In Italy I will be more tested but I like driving in the rain. It is tough in the rain but I like that,” said Rashid sporting a smile.
In the New Year, apart from the Parolin International, Rashid will also be taking part in Italy’s ROK Championship’s Mini ROK category for kids between age group 8-12 for the first time. A ACI CSAI Italian Motorsport Federation School training is also on cards for Rashid and he will be spending atleast two weeks every month in Italy to pursue his dreams.
“My aim is to be UAE’s first Formula one driver and I want to be like my hero Fernando Alonso — he is my favourite driver. I want to be a part of the Ferrari team on day,” asserted Rashid, whose eye for details was hailed by his team principal Fausto Ippoliti and team mechanic Giorgio Gioacchini.
“Though Al Dhaheri is so young but he is a very quick learner and that’s why he did well against boys who were older than him. We have full confidence in his potential and back him to make it big. We will be working closely with him and we are confident that he will better his performance in 2016,” said a confident Ippoliti.
Rashid’s father Dr Ali Obaid Al Yabhouni also went on to reveal that his son’s ability to balance academics with the sport was also making things easier.
“Rashid just wants to get behind the wheels but when he is at school, he is very attentive. He knows what value education can bring about in sport. I feel he is better focused in school because of the sport he is involved in as on track you have to take decisions in split seconds,” Dr Al Yabhouni said.