Rashid Al Dhaheri poweres to victory in Round One of the X30 Challenge UAE at RAK Track last weekend. Image Credit: Courtesy: Organiser

Abu Dhabi: Rashid Al Dhaheri, widely regarded as the UAE’s most exciting young karting star, got his UAE season off to a flying start as he powered to victory in Round One of the X30 Challenge UAE at RAK Track in Ras Al Khaimah last weekend.

The eight-year-old Abu Dhabi-based Emirati put in a determined display against a strong line-up of drivers in the cadet class. Al Dhaheri qualified in second position, remaining among the pacesetters throughout qualification in the very competitive class that features some of the Mena region’s top young karting stars in the eight to 12 age group.

In Heat 1, he dropped down to fifth place at one stage before recovering to finish third.

In the Pre-Final, again he found himself down in fifth before fighting his way back to finish in second.

In a hot and humid final, it was a similar story as the youngster dropped down to fifth after going off his racing line to avoid a collision.

Undeterred by this setback, Al Dhaheri delivered an impressive display as he chased down the pack, picking up positions with every lap.

Late in the race, he took second place with the leader a mere 2.6 seconds ahead.

In a thrilling final lap, Al Dhaheri held his nerve and skilfully overtook the leader to win a well-earned victory in the first X30 Challenge UAE karting race of the 2016-2017 UAE season.

Al Dhaheri also notched up the fastest lap time ever recorded in the cadet class on this track configuration.

“The gap was big but I knew I could catch P1,” he said later. “The set-up on the kart was really good and I managed to come back. I am really happy to win in my home country. “

Fausto Ippoliti, Team Manager of the youngster’s Ippoliti Kart team and an ex-Formula 3 Italian champion, commented: “Rashid put in a really impressive performance. He made us proud with his fighting spirit, excellent pace and technique.

“Rashid is very committed; he practises regularly and with enthusiasm in the UAE and in Italy. This victory shows that all his hard work is starting to pay off.

“It is great to work with such a talent and a great start to the 2016-17 season.”

Al Dhaheri is combining his UAE campaign with an intensive testing and racing programme in Italy with the formidable ‘BabyRace’ team.