Mohammed Al Balooshi
Mohammed Al Balooshi is a Dakar Rally expert. Image Credit: Organiser

Dubai: The UAE’s top motorcyclist Mohammed Al Balooshi has revealed he has high hopes for the sport as biking enthusiasts are re-emerging in numbers following the coronavirus lockdown.

The Dakar Rally specialist and former Bajas World Champion spoke of his frustrations during a 2020 campaign on the sidelines, but it has only made him hungry for more success.

“It was so strange to be stuck at home and not out racing last year, when there was nothing wrong with my body,” Al Balooshi told Gulf News ahead of a screening of Red Bull biking documentary ‘On Any Sunday — The Next Chapter’ at Vox Cinemas in Mall of the Emirates in Dubai. “It was very frustrating as I was fit but unable to get on my bike and race. I am making up for lost time now as all us bikers are getting back out there, on the road, track and dunes.”

Al Balooshi also said more enthusiasts than ever are taking up the sport. “I have many friends who own bike shops and they all say to me: ‘Mohammad, all the bikes are gone. We are sold out. There is nothing left.’ It is such a great sign to see more and more people getting into what I think is the best sport in the world. There is nothing like it.”

Al Balooshi is aiming to compete in the next Dakar Rally in Saudi Arabia early next year and has hopes to assemble a team to represent the UAE. “We have a lot of talent here in the UAE in the desert — both locals and expats — and with the Dakar just next door, I do not see why we cannot come up with a team of three or five riders to represent this side of the region. That will be one of my focuses. I am secure to race in 2022 and I will work on putting up a team.”

Al Balooshi also had some words of advice for budding young riders wanting to get into the sport. “Now it is a bit different to when it was my time,” he said. “You can stop by any dealer and he has all the equipment. You need to make sure you have all the necessary safety gear — your helmet obviously and the protective equipment. From there, try to contact a trainer who knows what he is doing. Safety comes first, but once you are in, you will love it.”