The dispensation is a clear endorsement of seven year old Al Dhaheri’s talent, while taking his development to the next level where he will be racing in the company of more experienced ten year old drivers and can expect tougher competition coupled to 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 has been recognised. 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 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 his weekend with a comprehensive 270 km testing stint where the team worked on setup.
In his debut in the 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 signaled his arrival in 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. 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, commented, “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 start which are usually the critical moments. This experience in higher category is very usefull for Rashid. It will speed up his development and will help him to be more mature as a race driver.”