Oman’s Abdullah Al Rawahi crashes out at Rotax Max Challenge Grand Finals

Sports Sunday 23/October/2016 17:55 PM
By: Times News Service
Oman’s Abdullah Al Rawahi crashes out at Rotax Max Challenge Grand Finals

Muscat: Omani karting hero Abdullah Al Rawahi’s exciting run in the Rotax Max Challenge Grand Finals ended in an agonising retirement on the final day of action at the Circuito Internazionale di Napoli in Sarno, Italy.
On a day when Team UAE and Oman experienced mixed fortunes, there was elation and heartbreak in equal measure in the DD2 Final as Taymour Kermanshahchi saved his best for last with a fantastic drive to 8th place while podium contender Abdullah Al Rawahi, crashed out while fighting amongst the front runners on lap 3.
Both drivers enjoyed a brilliant first lap as they made significant progress from their respective grid slots. Al Rawahi’s pace and race craft had set him apart throughout the Heat stages and he was into his groove immediately with a number of clinical overtakes as he made his way quickly to seventh, in a tight pack with the race leaders.
Eyeing a move for sixth past rival Canadian Marco Signoretti, Al Rawahi powered through but the two drivers touched under braking as Signoretti tried in vain to defend, forcing them both into a spin and agonising retirement.
Kermanshahchi capitalised and continued with aplomb, picking off a number of other top-class competitors on his way to an inspired 10th place, later promoted to 8th after penalties were applied to two other drivers.
For Al Rawahi, a podium finish was a realistic possibility but he was truly magnanimous after his disappointing result.
“Thank you to everyone for all the support. Congratulations to Team Oman and UAE for the fantastic performances and great team spirit. I think we did a great job all week in very tough conditions against the world’s best drivers. Luck was not on my side today but that’s racing sometimes,” Al Rawahi said.
“For me, there is always next year,” he added with a wry smile.
Ferenc Kancsar went on to win the Final and retain his Championship crown.
Taymour’s 11-year-old brother Ziggy Kermanshahchi, meanwhile, drove superbly to finish a sensational 5th in the Mini Max class. Surrounded by the world’s best in this category, Kermanshahchi was made to work extremely hard from 11th place on the grid as he fought his way through the field to finish just four seconds behind new world champion Jayden Els from South Africa.
This was the UAE’s first representation in this category at a Grand Finals and a fine example of how UAE-based talent has excelled in recent years with the level of competition at national level in the UAE Rotax Max Challenge.
Swapping places
Pasqual Pook was in the thick of the action in the Max category, swapping places continually until the end of the 20-lap Final. He was disappointed with his 25th place, having run in the top 20 at one point, but this was a fine performance from Pook in arguably the toughest class.
Oscar McElroy (21st) and Rashid Al Dhaheri (31st) endured a tough final as they were involved in an early incident and couldn’t hide their disappointment as both believed that they could have figured much higher up the leader board if things had gone their way. Still, the Micro Max category provided a great experience for the pair of highly-rated racers and fuelled them with motivation to return next year.
Team Manager Guy Sheffield concluded: “It has been a bittersweet couple of days for our drivers in terms of results. But overall we can be very proud of each and every one of them for their efforts this week, their commitment and support. This is the biggest stage and the toughest level of competition so, even if some results did not go our way, our drivers have benefitted hugely from the experience and will go back home and help to raise the performance bar further in terms of our National competition.
“It was an amazing performance from Ziggy. We have a huge strength in depth in that category which bodes well for the future. It has been an exhausting week but hugely positive for UAE and Oman kart sport and we are more determined than ever to continue to develop things back home so come back again stronger next year.”
Rotax Max Challenge Grand Finals champions: Micro Max: Diego Laroque (USA); Mini Max: Jayden Els (RSA); Junior Max: Mark Kimber (GB); Max: Denis Mavlanov (RUS); DD2: Ferenc Kancsar (HUN); DD2 Master: Lee Mitchener (AUS).