(MENAFN Press) Khaled Al Qubaisi, who has set his sights on another place in the record books next week, says a new generation of Emirati racing drivers are being given a huge opportunity to match and exceed his achievements in the international arena.
Al Qubaisi, the first home driver to win the UAE's top two international endurance races and the first to compete at Le Mans, is chasing a third successive victory in the Dunlop 24 Hours of Dubai on 9-10 January with Team Abu Dhabi by Black Falcon.
Among those willing him success at Dubai Autodrome will be the five young Emiratis enrolled in the Daman Speed Academy, which was set up by Abu Dhabi Racing in conjunction with the National Health Insurance Company in October.
Al Qubaisi, whose 13-year-old daughter Amna is among the Academy's first batch of students, said: "There is no limit to what they can achieve. They have been given an opportunity which I would have done anything to have.
"If I had started in motor racing at their age, and been given such an opportunity, who knows what I would have done. Maybe I would have been in Formula One now.
"My message to them is that they should take this opportunity very seriously and not waste it. They must be 100 per cent committed.
"We can identify the best young drivers at Abu Dhabi Racing and support them, but they must have total commitment if they are going to get to the top level."
The Daman Speed Academy was instigated by Al Qubaisi in his role as Managing Director of Abu Dhabi Racing, which was set up last year to increase the Emirate's presence in global motor sport and create more opportunities for Emiratis on the international stage.
The Academy's long-term objective is to produce the UAE's first Formula One driver, and Al Qubaisi hopes his own success in endurance racing can help inspire the seven youngsters currently undergoing an eight-month training programme in Abu Dhabi.
After a commanding victory in the recent Gulf 12 Hours at Yas Marina Circuit, Al Qubaisi is relishing another big challenge in the Dunlop 24 Hours of Dubai alongside Germany's Bernd Schneider and Dutchman Jeroen Bleekemolen.
They are being joined by Andreas Simonsen from Sweden who won the Pro Am category in this years' FIA GT series and took overall victory in Slovakia in the team's lead Mercedes AMG SLS GT3, and Al Qubaisi can't wait to get back behind the wheel at Dubai Autodrome where he became the first Emirati driver to taste victory in the endurance classic two years ago.