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talking torque

The racing bug explained by sufferers

What are the symptoms of the racing bug? We spoke to UAE racing drivers to find out

10:45 March 14, 2016
Khaled Al Qubaisi

Dubai: What exactly is the racing bug? It’s a question that has played on the minds of many for over 100 years and yet still no one has been able to answer it.

Why do those who participate in motorsport do it, and what causes the satisfaction? A slick, seamless gear change, getting a particular corner just right by hitting the kerb’s sweet-spot or a perfectly executed overtaking manoeuvre are just three examples.

It is, of course, different between drivers. Some relish the need for balance whereas others are turned on by the lack of it. Gulf News spoke to four UAE-based racing drivers to learn more.


Phil Anson prepares to take his Radical for a blast 

Phil Anson, who is a regular asphalt junkie around the Dubai Autodrome said: “For me it’s the consistent need to go quicker, balancing on the knife edge of grip and control and constantly pushing the limits of both the vehicle and myself.”

However, Omani racing driver Zakariya Al Aufi, gets his kick from controlling a slide. He says “for me it’s the fitness required and the sharpness in making a critical decision at the right time.

“Brain synchronisation is something that develops, faster with racing drivers, and I love having the ability to control a car in a slide or fast corner – which is something non-racers can’t do.”


Zakariya Al Aufi, right, posing with a rally car

While Anson and Al Aufi’s racing bug symptoms tend to revolve around speed and balance, some drivers are more satisfied by the less-obvious aspects of racing. Atef Al Barwani, one the UAE’s quickest home-grown kart drivers, likened the racing bug to a popular dance. He told Gulf News: “Karting is like doing the Lambada; you and the kart in precise synchronisation.

“There is a satisfying feeling from getting the perfect racing line through a corner – the smoothness, the momentum, and the precision of clipping the apex. More obvious to the spectators, though, is making a high-stakes manoeuvre on someone, yet making it look simple and easy.”

He added: “Standing on the podium [after a race] is the best feeling ever as you see the faces of your competitors and they are all top drivers and champions by right. Being among the elite is just all so special.”


Atef Al Barwani pictured in the kart (front) with his teammates

One of the UAE’s most prolific racing drivers, Khaled Al Qubaisi, told Gulf News what gets his petrol flowing: “For me there are a lot of things. There is a very rare feeling when everything comes perfectly together and seems like you are at the limits of what is humanly possible to achieve. A lot of things have to come together in terms of great car set-up, good preparation and having the best possible mind-set.” 

However, Al Qubaisi’s racing bug is fuelled even further by his involvement in the Daman Speed Academy’s mission to find and nurture the UAE’s future racing stars. He added that “The feeling of having our young academy drivers achieving success and winning races gives me great pride.”

While there is no known cure for the racing bug, there is no shortage of treatment facilities around the UAE which cater for sufferers of all ages and all abilities. Learn more about motorsport in the UAE here.