Young Abu Dhabi schoolboy Rashid Al Dhaheri’s exploits have been recognised and rewarded, the seven-year-old being given special dispensation to race at a higher level.
The Italian Motorsport Federation ACI CSAI in coordination with the Automobile and Touring Club of the UAE (ATCUAE) granted the special permission which will see Al Dhaheri race against drivers 10 years and older in the Italian Championship Kart Series.
The dispensation is an endorsement of Al Dhaheri’s talent, while also taking his development to the next level where he will be racing in the company of more experienced drivers and can expect tougher competition coupled with the challenge of being by far the youngest driver in the category.
Rashid’s father Ali Al Dhaheri said: “Of course we are very proud that Rashid’s progress and talent have been recognised.
Back home from exciting weekend in Lonato,competing with the 'big boys'. Looking forward to the next round in Italy! pic.twitter.com/LtFwJfGkDr
— Rashid Al Dhaheri (@aldhaherirashid) April 14, 2015
"As parents we only want the best for him. So we see this development in the same light as a young gifted kid at school who gets promoted a year [earlier] so as to cater for their higher level.
“The same for Rashid, the professionals in karting believe it is time for him to move up a level and we respect this decision.”
This past weekend at South Garda Circuit in Italy, it was straight into the deep end for the UAE’s ‘Little Alonso’ as he began with a comprehensive 270km testing stint where the team worked on setup.
Al Dhaheri recovered from a below par qualification, in the first tier of the Parolin Academy championship, and was soon battling for second place, but bad luck struck when his chain came off and resulted in a DNF.
But the diminutive Emirati had signalled his arrival among the ‘big boys’.
The lack of luck did not deter Al Dhaheri as he impressed again in the final, starting last and ending eighth, thus capping a productive weekend in the new category.
His father said at the end of the day: “It was a steep learning curve for Rashid, and he had some tough luck but that is all part of racing.
Interviews with Italian media announcing Italian Motorsport Federation gave me permission to race in higher category pic.twitter.com/nmwKPgQqpH
— Rashid Al Dhaheri (@aldhaherirashid) April 12, 2015
“Overall, it was a great weekend with lots of experience gained. It is in line with the long-term goal for Rashid, learning as much as possible is the ultimate goal.”
Marco Parolin, marketing manager of Parolin Academy, added “I think Rashid stepping up in the higher category will be a very good experience for such a young driver.
"I saw him racing over the last year and I know he has the capabilities to figure well in this series.”
“This past weekend despite being by far the youngest in the field, Rashid was not afraid.
"He did some nice overtaking, and he did not crash in any of the rolling starts which are usually the critical moments.
“This experience in higher category is very useful for Rashid. It will speed up his development and will help him to be more mature as a race driver.”