(MENAFN - Muscat Daily) Oman will make its debut at the Rotax Max Challenge Grand Finals (RMCGF), which is one of go-karting's biggest showpiece events, in New Orleans, US, from November 13-16.
The sultanate's ace go-karting racer, Sanad al Rawahi, will compete in the marquee finals for the third time in a row, having represented UAE in the past. This year's appearance, however, would mark his first in Oman colours at the RMCGF.
Sanad, having turned up for UAE in the past two years, earned yet another finals spot after consistent performances in the Rotax Max Challenge Series, the national championship of UAE, last season.
After the Oman Automobile Association (OAA) sent a request to the upcoming event's organising committee - and also with go-karting activities taking place regularly at the OAA's premises - Sanad was granted a seat on the basis of his overall good performances in the UAE series last year.
Sanad finished overall second in the DD2 category to qualify for the RMCGF. His previous two appearances came in 2011 (in UAE) and in 2012 (Portugal).
Speaking to Muscat Daily before leaving for the Rotax Max International Open in Zuera, Spain, from October 23-27, Sanad said, ''The competition in Spain is tough, it will give me a good opportunity to prepare for the Rotax Grand Finals. I hope to use my experience of racing in Europe over the past couple of months to come up with a good performance [in New Orleans].''
Rawahi duo heads for build-up event
In Spain, Sanad will be joined by his younger brother, Abdullah, who will compete in the Rotax Max Senior class.
Abdullah hasn't yet made it to the Rotax Grand Finals, which will be held this time at the Nola Motorsports Park, but a top-three finish in Zuera could earn him a ticket to New Orleans.
Abdullah said, ''I can finish on the podium [in Zuera] with a little bit of luck on my side. I must say that we have benefitted a lot from competing in European races. If I manage to finish among the top three in Zuera, I can still go to New Orleans.''
Sanad aims to finish among the top 30 in New Orleans and though there would be a large grid, he is hopeful of a strong showing.
Both the brothers have been training weekly at the OAA's tracks. They recently returned to Muscat after competing in the first round of the 2013-2014 UAE Rotax Max Challenge Series.
Sanad said, ''The biggest challenge we face from racers in Europe and other international competitions is that while we train only on a weekly or fortnightly basis, they practise everyday. It makes a big difference.''
Matter of pride for Oman: Suleiman
The duo's father, Suleiman al Rawahi, who is also their manager, said, ''This is the first time Oman will be represented at the Rotax Grand Finals. It is one of the biggest events [in go-karting] and it is a matter of pride to have an Omani racer taking part.''
Suleiman, who is the OAA's managing director, said, ''The event in Zuera will comprise top racers from around the world as it is being held ahead of the Rotax Grand Finals. It will be good to know where Sanad and Abdullah stand against the top competitors.''
The senior Rawahi added, ''This is the first time the finals are being held in the US. Close to 300 drivers from nearly 60 countries will take part this year. In the inaugural finals in 2000, only 66 drivers from 19 countries took part.''
The Rotax Max Challenge is the biggest kart racing series worldwide and the competitions are held in Junior Max class, Max class, Max DD2 and Max DD2 Masters categories.
Suleiman said, ''The best thing about the Rotax series is that there is a lot of emphasis on the racers' driving abilities. The most talented drivers in the world compete in the finals. For many, it is the ideal first step into a career in motor sports. A number of current Formula One drivers began with Rotax engines, like Jenson Button and Kimi Rai