Rashid Al Dhaheri wins the 2021 world title in Italy
Rashid Al Dhaheri wins the 2021 world title in Italy Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: Young Emirati driver Rashid Al Dhaheri claimed the 2021 World Series Karting Super Master Series Championship title on Sunday in the OK-Junior category.

After proving himself to be the fastest man in pouring rain two weeks ago, Rashid this time had to prove himself on dry track against a field of the world’s 88 best OKJ drivers from 33 countries at the world-famous South Garda Karting track.

Following an overall fifth qualifying result, the five qualification heats were dominated by Al Dhaheri’s consistency, maturity and level-headedness, claiming pole position for the pre-final, which Al Dhaheri won over 17 laps.

Rashid Al Dhaheri celebrates on the podium
Rashid Al Dhaheri celebrates on the podium Image Credit: Supplied

Once again, Al Dhaheri set off from pole position in the final, and dropped to fourth over the opening two laps. But Al Dhaheri proved himself not only very fast on track but also with a very strong mindset. He kept himself calm throughout the race despite big pressure from all sides, but with great focus and unique driving skills, Rashid was able to win the hard-fought battles lap by lap, overtaking his opponents and climbing all the way back to the top and claim the chequered flag. Al Dhaheri’s kart No. 355 crossed the finish line with a gap of 0.960 seconds over his closest competitor Harley Keeble (GBR) and the Emirati passionately threw his arms in the air to celebrate his double triumph.

This time the podium celebration was very special as two trophies were awarded. After the UAE flag was hoist and UAE’s national anthem played Al Dhaheri was awarded not only the trophy for winning the fourth round of the WSK Super Master Series, but also for the hard-fought 2021 Championship title, which Al Dhaheri has already won in the Mini (60cc engine) category in 2019.

“I am very happy to win both — the championship and the race — and I am very proud to repeat my success of 2019, but this time in a harder and more challenging category,” Al Dhaheri said. “I am thankful for my team and everyone who supports me.

“This championship title means a lot to me, especially as I am racing in this OKJ category for less than a year and I lost valuable points in Round 2 and I missed Round 3 due to my COVID infection. Despite lacking speed during the warm-up session, thanks to the great team effort we were able to get the kart ready on time for the pre-final and I only had to stay fully focused and with a cool head in the Final. Whenever I am inside the kart, I do not feel the stress and I think only of the race. I really wanted to show that despite adversity everything is possible. I always try to do everything with my head and to the best as I can.

“I know my family is following all my races live from Beijing (China) and I know they are very proud of me. It is unfortunate that I cannot see them for a year, but I am very determined to further climb up the motorsport ladder in the coming years and for this, I must work very hard and I am happy to sacrifice all that it takes.”

Coach and ex-Formula 2 champion Fausto Ippoliti said: “The WSK Super Master Series Championship is a very difficult title to win, only some of the world’s best race drivers — such as current Formula 1 drivers Max Verstappen and Antonio Giovinazzi — have achieved this title in the past. Rashid can secure this iconic title for the second time after his 2019 success, of course now in a much more competitive OKJ category. Rashid’s extreme self-motivation, self-discipline, passion, and hard work have paid off. The whole team is extremely proud of Rashid’s achievements, it is an amazing result.”

Rashid will next depart with his team for the FIA Karting European Championship which will be held 13-16 May in Genk, Belgium.

Round 4 of WSK Super Master Series OKJ:

1. Rashid AL DHAHERI (UAE)
2. Harley KEEBLE (GBR) + 0.960
3. Berta NAKAMURA (JPN) +3.014

WSK Super Master Series OKJ Championship standings

1. Rashid AL DHAHERI (UAE) 247 points
2. Matheus FERREIRA (Brazil) 205 points
3. Alex POWELL (Jamaica) 192 points