sport
17-year-old Hussain Shikooh became the youngest participant in UAE National Sportbike Championship history earlier this year. He will be competing in Spain this weekend at Jerez circuit during the CIV Spanish National Championship. Image Credit: Supplied

It will be a proud moment this weekend for Hussain Shikooh who will be racing for Team MDR-Competicion in the penultimate leg of the CIV Spanish National Championship (Campeonato Interautonómico De Velocidad).

It will be the teenager’s debut race on the Yamaha R6 SuperSport 600cc at the world famous Jerez Circuit and he will also become the first Emirati to compete at the prestigious event.

Representing the UAE, he will be joined in the Spanish team by Hungarian rider Kecskés Bence, Finland’s Joona Seppa and Switzerland’s Baris Sahin in the challenging SSP600 category with free practice taking place on 30th September.

The qualifying session is on 1st October and then on 2nd October is race day and Shikooh cannot wait. “I am really excited,” says the 17-year-old who earlier this year became the youngest participant in UAE National Sportbike Championship history. “I started racing in the UAE MiniGP Championship when I was 15 and I was able to achieve two podiums and one win in the 160 class,” he says.

Next level

MiniGP features pit bikes with four-stroke engines that can make up to 25bhp and are used by professional riders for training. The International Motorcycling Federation now recognises MiniGP – which is popular in Europe and the US – as an official competition, but it wasn’t long before the impressive Shikooh made the step up to the next level which was the UAE National Sportsbike Championship. “I moved up to the big circuit before getting a road license,” he laughs.

The motorcycle racing series, held throughout the winter at the Dubai Autodrome, features racers who come from all over the world to compete on different configurations of the circuit with the vast majority aged 25 and above. But such is his skill and ability, Shikooh – who signed a sponsorship deal with Yamaha Motor UAE in March – is almost a decade younger. He actually started racing on four wheels in karting when he was just 11 years old before moving to two. And now on the weekend, he’ll be riding the Yamaha R6 which has a whopping 116bhp and a top speed of 265kph. Earlier this month he was able to have his first track day on the bike built by the MotoGP team for Spaniard Maverick Vinales, the 2013 Moto3 World Champion. “It was amazing to ride it and try to reduce my lap times and get used to the speed of it.”

In a sport that is typically dominated by adults he has faced many struggles, for instance, the issuance of race licenses not to mention seeking permission for track days on the circuit but he has proved that he has it in him to compete at the highest level. “Now, I am really looking forward to racing on Jerez Circuit which has held many high-level events such as Formula 1, MotoGP and WSBK. So to represent the UAE there for the first time is a huge honour,” he says.

Push hard

He believes he will start on the back row in Jerez but aims to slowly improve his position during the race. “It is my debut race and the level will be much higher than anything I’ve gone through,” he says. “I plan to push hard in the race but spend the free practice getting used to the Grand Prix circuit, as it will definitely have more grip than the UAE circuit.”

After his Spanish adventure, he will be back in the UAE competing in the DSBK race on October 9 which is set to be televised and then he will be challenging in the UAE SuperSport Championship - but he is setting his sights as high as possible. “The level I hope to achieve is Superbike World Championship. To represent the UAE there is a big deal. My target is to enter the World Supersport, then World Superbike and become the world champion.”