Dubai: Rashid Al Dhaheri continued to etch his name into UAE motorsport history as he became the youngest Emirati to win an officially sanctioned kart race on the international stage as he claimed a well-deserved victory in the Parolin Championship in Siena, Italy, at the weekend.
The seven-year-old Abu Dhabi schoolboy was in fine form at the Pista Internazionale di Siena, near Firenze, and signalled his intent with a strong showing in qualifying, where he claimed pole position.
The youngest driver in the field of boys up to 10 years of age, in the pre-final he won with a display of consistency and speed that ensured he would start the final from the front row.
In the final race on the first day, Al Dhaheri was third into the first turn, but contact early on saw him drop down to tenth with four laps to go. Instead of getting demoralised, it spurred him to fight back to finish sixth, setting the fastest lap in the process.
On day two, the UAE’s ‘Little Alonso’ again secured pole position for the pre-final, which he won with a controlled performance and set himself up with a front row start for the Final.
This time around Al Dhaheri was in a pack of eight drivers slugging for the lead — all separated by less than two seconds. He slotted into second place in the early stages before edging ahead to set the pace until the chequered flag dropped.
He thus scored his first victory in the Parolin Championship, which features some of Italy’s finest young drivers.
Team manager Fausto Ippoliti said: “Overall lots of experience gained by Rashid this weekend on track. Again the use of telemetry was useful, but he also showed a cool head, keeping calm under duress and resisting pressure from the big boys, to make it to the top step of the podium.
“It was a tough weekend on track battles but the reward is that Rashid now lies fifth in the championship, which is a great performance considering he is the youngest kid in the field and who joined the series late and thus missed out on the opening round. Nevertheless we [will] tackle the two remaining rounds of the summer with optimism.”