MENA Karting Nations Cup ‘paying dividends’ by raising standards for future F1 and rally stars

Dubai, UAE, 9th December, 2021: As Abu Dhabi prepares to serve up one of the most dramatic ever finishes to a Formula 1 season, Mohammed Ben Sulayem says the Middle East’s top young drivers are showing a new determination to reach the top level.

Sunday’s showdown between Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen at the F1 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix is the stuff motor racing legends are made of, and capable of inspiring a new generation of young talent.

That was the objective behind the launch last year of the MENA Karting Nations Cup, instigated by Ben Sulayem, and the regional FIA Vice President for Sport sees clear indications that the championship is already paying dividends.

“It has given many of the region’s top drivers a chance to compete on the same stage for the first time, and the early signs are very encouraging,” said Ben Sulayem, President of the Emirates Motorsports Organization (EMSO).

“What we’re noticing is that the best drivers are getting better, and those chasing them are also making advancements. This is the basic aim of the MENA Karting Nations Cup – to raise standards all round.”

Added Ben Sulayem: “In all branches of motor sport, when you come against the best drivers at your level, you quickly get to understand what you need to improve, and get ahead.

“This is exactly what Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen did during their karting careers. Seeing these two fantastic drivers going head to head in Abu Dhabi on Sunday can only fire up those who dream of following them.”

The MENA Karting Nations Cup is designed as a multi-year development project for young drivers who are the future F1 and rally stars

Last month’s second edition, staged by the Oman Automobile Association at the Muscat Speedway, attracted 138 drivers from 18 countries in the Middle East and North Africa.

It was a particularly successful event for the UAE, whose national team replaced the host country as overall champions, with Oman finishing runners-up on this occasion and Lebanon taking third place.

In addition, UAE drivers finished on the podium in each of the Rotax Max Challenge (six), RD1 Elite Endurance and RD1 Elite Sprint categories.

The UAE team was Faris Haroun, Maxim Bobreshov, Kaiden Higgins, Max Murray, Conor Clancy, Harry Hannam, Theo Kekati, Lewis England, Sebastian Murray, Mohammed Matar Al Shamsi, Kyle Kumaran, Aly Beig, Mohamed Haroun, Hussain Umid Ali and Greg Watt.