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Six-year-old Rashid completes Italian karting programme with flying colours
July 22, 2014
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DUBAI: With the holiday season in full swing, Rashid Al Dhaheri has been on a intensive karting adventure in Italy in what rates as the most comprehensive training programme ever embarked on by a young aspiring race driver from the UAE.

The Abu Dhabi schoolboy, fondly referred to as ‘Little Alonso’, participated in karting race weekends at Lonato, Siena and Ottobiano venues and also undertook an intensive training course held under the auspices by the Italian federation ACI CSAI in Naples. Here he got his first taste of more powerful 60cc karts.

The races and training events were for drivers between six and eight years of age, with Rashid, at six years and three months, invariably the youngest in the groups.

But this did little to deter the youngster who impressed with every outing, and it is safe to say that he emerged from the experience a more complete and mature driver, that belies his young age.

Although Italy is engulfed in summer the weather played a part in proceedings, with inevitable rainy days adding to the challenges faced by Rashid.

Nevertheless this was all part and parcel of the programme which also included racing in big field of over thirty young up-and-coming drivers, battling with rivals wheel-to-wheel, while learning the finer techniques of racing; such as rolling starts and the various flag rules that are part of the sport.

The recurring theme of Rashid’s participation was his eagerness to learn, his ability to follow instructions and constantly running at the sharp end of the field in all the races he participated in.

Perhaps one of the most significant steps taken during the Italian summer campaign was his participation in the highly acclaimed and intensive karting training camp organised by the ACI CSAI Federal School at Napoli Sarno International Circuit, from 7 to 10 July.

Training at the highly reputable institute was conducted under the direction of Raffaele Giammaria, with supervision by former Formula 1 team owner Gian Carlo Minardi, with guest instructors which included Gimmi Bruni - 2013 FIA Endurance World Champion and winner of the 2014 Le Mans 24 hours for Ferrari.

Rashid joined 20 promising young drivers, aged between 6 and 10, in what was a four day course, which included practical and theoretical lessons.

Again the young Emirati impressed, Giammaria reported: “Rashid is very good boy, he was attentive to the activities. He showed good independence and confidence, in particular at an emotional level, and although he is very young he could easily mix it with the older boys.”

“He has good driving sensibility, considering his very young age and he did not show any problems to understand the exercises. He was able to drive correct lines and made very good use of the circuit. Initially he had problems in the unfamiliar wet conditions, but he focussed and with each lap he improved. He was also very respectful of the flags and signals, which is a good sign.”

“Rashid is very young but has great opportunities to improve because he drives a great deal, and with good coaching he will improve even more. Again because he is very young the important thing is for him to have fun without pressure,” concluded Giammaria.

Ex-Formula 1 driver, Le Mans winner and current Ferrari works driver Gimmi Bruni, who has signed little Rashid for his karting team, said of the youngster: “Rashid has been engaged for three weeks of hard training and competing in tough races which included Siena champion kart, the summer kart campus and finally the Easy Kart races.”

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