ROTAX MAX GRAND FINALS: SANAD AL RAWAHI FINISHES CREDITABLE SIXTH

Oman’s top go-karting driver Sanad al Rawahi kept his promise of a top-ten finish at the 2015 Rotax Max Challenge Grand Finals that concluded in Portimao, Portugal on Saturday night. The 20 year old student of GUtech clinched a creditable sixth place in a world-class field of 34 drivers in the DD2 class at the Kartodromo Internacional Algarve.

Speaking ahead of his departure to the Grand Finals, Sanad had told Muscat Daily, “My aim is to qualify for the final race and finish among the top ten in Portimao.”

On Saturday, the Omani driver came up with an impressive display to settle for his best ever result at the Grand Finals.

Sanad qualified 13th on the grid during the pre-final, but was involved in first lap crash, which saw him drop to the last place in a field of 34 drivers.

Displaying nerves of steel and keeping a cool head, Sanad recovered well to produce a sterling fightback, notching up quick times during the second half of the race.

In fact, Sanad came up with the second quickest lap and was one of the fastest drivers on the track – only the winner set a quicker lap – as he powered to a sixth-place finish, his best showing in the Grand Finals in his five attempts.

Speaking to Muscat Daily from Portimao on Sunday, Sanad said, “It is amazing to be sixth in the world. I can’t be any happier. After the crash in the first lap that forced me to the last place, I was determined to fight back. It is a great result.”

The youngster added, “The result is payback for the hard work we put into our racing programme over the past few years. Credit goes to my father [Suleiman al Rawahi] for making it happen, my brother Abdullah [al Rawahi] for his support and my crew who gave me a good kart. I think we could have done better but for the crash.”

Sanad and his brother Abdullah, though representing Oman, were affiliated to Team UAE at the Grand Finals as they had qualified for the event by booking spots through the UAE Rotax Max Challenge Series.

Hungarian driver Ferenc Kancsar won the race to claim the DD2 world title.

In the Max class final, Abdullah finished 21st among 34 racers. Italian driver Alex Alex claimed the MAX world title.

He said, “I had a very good start, but a crash in the third corner pushed me back to the 26th place. I still managed to end 21st.”

Suleiman, Sanad and Abdullah’s father-cum-manager, said, “I am delighted by the boys’ performances over the past week. For Sanad to finish sixth is an achievement that we all are happy and proud of. Abdullah was unlucky in the final race.

“To make it to the final round that comprises the best 34 drivers in the respective class from across the globe is testimony of their hard work. I thank the team and all the supporters who trusted and backed us all along.

“It is a big moment for Oman as this is the first time that an Omani has reached so far in the Rotax Max Grand Finals, a world-class event,” he said.

Mark Rose, the team’s engineer and Sanad Shannak, the team manager, were all praise for the siblings’ impressive performances at the finals. “It has been a fantastic week and the brothers caught the eye of everyone with their display,” said Shannak.

The Rotax Max Challenge is the fastest growing kart racing series in the world and the latest edition of the Grand Finals witnessed 288 drivers from nearly 60 countries – a far cry from the 66 drivers and 19 countries who participated in 2000, its inaugural year.

SOURCE: MUSCAT DAILY