Muscat: Setbacks don’t deter him. In fact, he loves to accept challenges and at the recently-concluded sixth round of the UAE Rotax Max Challenge Series at the Yas Marina circuit in Abu Dhabi, UAE, Muscat-based go-karting racer Shonal Kunimal displayed his potential to overcome setbacks in abundance as he claimed yet another podium finish in the micro max category of the ongoing 2021-22 series after finishing fifth in the fifth round.
The back-to-back races were held at the Formula One Yas Marina circuit and ten-year-old Shonal, who has pushed out by a rival in the fifth round, came back strongly to take the third place in the next round.
The UAE Rotax Max Challenge Series features some of the best young drivers in the region and Shonal, a student of the Indian School Ghubra in Muscat, has now been on the podium on four occasions in the six rounds held.
Russian Maxim Bobreshov continues to dominate the series as he picked up yet another win to lead the overall standings while Greek racer Leonidas Peruzzi, who was found guilty of pushing Shonal out of the track with a contact in the fifth round, is overall second.
Despite the setback in the fifth round on Sunday, Shonal, coached by former Oman go-karting star Sanad al Rawahi, fought back to a podium place in the next round on Monday.
Bobreshov was the fastest in the sixth round and Leonidas was behind by 0.882 second and Shonal trailed the winner by 1.520 seconds.
However, it was the comeback by Shonal in the fifth round that was remarkable. Having spun out of the track in lap three, he rallied to a fifth-place finish in the remaining 13 laps.
Later the race jury penalised Leonidas for his contact with Shonal and was given a penalty of ten seconds pushing him to sixth and Shonal keeping the fifth spot. Maxim won round five while Pierre Abou Diwan was second and Emilen Boul third.
After six rounds and with three more rounds remaining in March, the series top honours seems to be going Maxim’s way as he leads with 585 points. Only 32 points differentiates Leonidas and Shonal with the former currently placed second with 507 points and Shonal 475. Each round a racer can pocket a total of 100 points with 40 for a race win and 30 each for a win in the pre-final and a heat race.
Speaking after his podium finish in the sixth round, Shonal said, “It was a great experience racing on a Formula One track. It is a very fast track than the circuits we usually race on.
“I am delighted that I could record a lap time of 37.495 seconds, which is one of the fastest laps in my category this year.”
Shonal expressed his thanks to his coach and his father, Shojai Kunimal, for their constant support.
“I owe a lot to my father and my coach Sanad, along with my technical team of Carlo John Bariquit and Mark Rose,” he said.