UAE champion and Prema Powerteam driver sponsored by Kaspersky Lab, Amna Al Qubaisi will make her Formula 4 debut when the first round of the F4 Italian championship gets underway at Adria in Italy on Sunday.
Amna, the star of Daman Speed Academy, will aim to learn and to build her experience in the single seater racing to be amongst the best in the business at the Formula 4 Italian season which will get underway at the Adria International Raceway.
It will conclude at the Mugello Circuit on October 28, championship comprising of a total of seven race weekends.
Amna had tested with Prema Powerteam in Abu Dhabi earlier this year and came up with flying colours resulting in her being selected to race for the team.
“I’m so excited about the 2018 season of the Formula 4 Italian championship,” she said. “I have been training hard with Prema Powerteam and I feel ready ahead of my debut season.
“I am a rookie in this format of racing, but that does not mean I won’t be pushing hard. I aim to learn more and prove myself in one of the most important F4 championships in the world that has a huge grid.
“I would like to thank Kaspersky Lab, Renoir consulting, Italia Independent, Garage Italia, Gaudi Jeans, Omeir Travel Agency and Abu Dhabi Racing for the huge support and in believing in me.”
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Having secured a fourth UAE Sportbike Championship recently, Mahmoud Tannir believes he still has the motivation and hunger to challenge for more silverware.
Tannir has been in stunning form all season, winning six races and finishing second in four of the twelve races, before clinching the championship in round six.
Despite the success on track, it’s been a difficult season off it for the Honda rider as crashes and bike problems curtailed an otherwise victorious season.
“It was one of the toughest seasons for me, competition wise at the beginning but mostly on the mental side later on,” Tannir told Sport360.
“I had the most amount of crashes for few reasons, couple of own mistakes and trying to understand new tires, but mostly due to a technical problem that we only managed to find out about it just before the end of the season.
“The worst thing for a racer is not knowing the reason of crashing out as you end up going in circles trying many things, but ultimately we found the problem and had to bring in new parts. After this it was normal business again.”
Tannir, who lives in Dubai and has been competing in the Sportbike Championship for over ten years, went into the final round with a commanding 37 point lead and needed only to finish on the podium to secure the trophy, making for a less tense race day.
In an ultra competitive 600 cc competition, Tannir’s victory makes it a four titles since 2013, but it’s his latest triumph that the Lebanese rates among his greatest.
Earlier this year, he lost a friend and competitor Federico Fratelli, who died after his bike crashed during one of the rounds of the championship at Dubai Autodrome.
“Fredrico’s death had a big impact on everyone and myself included. It affected the racing atmosphere here and also made finishing the season very hard,” Tannir said.
“But I chose to honour him in the best way possible by trying to win this championship. I was lucky to share a podium with Federico and I’d like to want to dedicate my fourth title to him.”
With the popularity of Sportbikes continuing to flourish in the region, Tannir believes organisers need to capitalise on its growth.
“We have championships in three countries in the region and always new faces emerge. Now there is a new track in Kuwait which will be a good addition to the region and the sport as well,” he added.
“It’s good that we can all compete in different championships to raise the level of the sport in the region, but the organisers here need to work better on making it more affordable to everyone and especially for racers coming from abroad to compete in the UAE also.”
The Emirati motocross rider saw his hopes of winning the competition end in an unfortunate manner after crashing near the end of the 281km Al Ain Water Stage in the Liwa Desert on Tuesday.
The impact of the incident meant the 38-year-old had concussion but did not suffer any injuries to his body and was discharged from Madinat Zayed hospital on Thursday. Yet, the UAE rider has no recollection of it and is grateful for Toby Price’s gesture in giving up his own title challenge to stop and wait for Al Balooshi to be airlifted to hospital before completing the third leg in 11th place.
“Luckily, nothing is broken and I’m grateful for that,” Al Balooshi told Sport360, who hopes to be back on the bike in two weeks time and start preparations for the Baja Espana Aragon which will take place in July 21.
“I thank God for that. I really don’t remember anything of the crash of how it happened.
“I remember Toby Price stopping on the desert to help me and to be honest I didn’t know where I was.
“I thought we were living in 2016 and when someone tells you it’s 2018 and there’s a two-year gap, you start to panic more.”
راح اشتاق المرور عبر هذي الكثبان الرمليه #الحمدلله انا بخير و نعاود عليهن السنه القادمه باذن الله Going to miss riding these dunes.. but glad I'm in one peace and there is always next year so until than #keeponriding ✊ 📸 by @kinmarcinphoto . @gshock_middleeast @alainwaterofficial @redbulluae @redbull @sports2official @sil_dxb @2xu @oakleymotorsports @mxacademy_dubai @ktmuae #عام_زايد
He added: “I saw on TV the spots of where I had the accident and then another spot of where I landed and I travelled quite far. That scared me.
“I remember during the third stage that I was doing everything right and was gaining good minutes.
“I felt good and everything I did was good until the crash.”
Red Bull KTM rider Price finished the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge in seventh place, with Chile’s Pablo Quintanilla taking the bikes title in Thursday’s final leg at Yas Marina Circuit.
And Al Balooshi paid tribute to the Australian “legend” as well as the messages from the other riders.
“My coach once said that good rider can not only be a good rider but has to be a good person and that is what Toby Price is,” he said. “He’s a real legend, he had a lot of patience because he asked and stopped and took time to be with me. He kept saying that everything will be okay.
“He didn’t show that he was in a hurry. What he did was heroic and really respectful.
I hope everyone including myself can learn from this legend as it was great sportsmanship.
“I’m really grateful for everyone for their wishes and thoughts. I want to thank everyone for their support.”