GULFWEEKLY: BAHRAINI race ace Najashi Rashdan is gearing up to take part in an international karting race in November, which he hopes will set him on the right track to achieving his Formula One dream.
The 26-year-old was crowned champion of the Senior Rotax Championship on March 25, which granted him a ticket to the International Rotax Grand Final in Portimao, Portugal where he will be representing Bahrain.
“I thank my team who believed in me throughout this journey,” said Rashdan who races for Forza Bahrain team, which he cofounded.
“I am excited to take part in the international race as scouts from all over the industry will be watching the event.
“So I am hoping to showcase my skills in racing to get closer to my dream of representing Bahrain in Formula 1.”
This is not Rashdan’s first victory - he has been crowned karting champion twice in earlier events.
Karting is a form of motorsport where competitors race in miniature, skeleton-framed, rear-engine automobiles called karts that are capable of going as fast as 160kmph.
The sport originated in the US in the 1950s after the first kart was devised from unwanted lawn-mower engines.
“I have always been a big fan of F1,” he said.
“I remember watching an F1 race with my father on a Sunday afternoon; my siblings and I wore red T-shirts supporting Ferrari.
“Then, when I was 14-years-old, the first karting track opened in Bahrain and my brother took me to the venue. That kickstarted my journey in this sport.”
Seeing his passion for racing, his mother gifted him a kart and since then Rashdan had been working continuously to improve his skills.
He explained his training process which included jumping rope and neck training exercises.
“Racing requires a lot of energy,” added Rashdan. “Once a racer completes eight laps around the track, they get tired and start making mistakes.
“So not only does my training involve familiarising myself with the track to maximise my time, but it is also necessary to develop my stamina to keep my energy up while racing.”
However, inspired by his idol, the German racer Michael Schumacher, Rashdan believes his main advantage over his competitors is that he is his own mechanic.
“I know my kart in and out, and can adjust based on how I feel on the track,” he added.
“When I drive, I feel the smallest of changes in the car, so as both a mechanic and a driver, I feel like I am constantly improving on the kart to increase my efficiency on the circuit.”
Rashdan plans to visit the track in Portimao one month prior to the race to gain some practice.
“My plan is to use this race to prove myself,” he added.
“To step up from karting to racing in F1. I hope to represent Bahrain in our own formula circuit.”