The customary tranquil and picturesque Sakhir, Bahrain was to be the backdrop to determine the 2013 KFJ Champion. Sixty two of the world’s Elite Kart drivers gathered to hopefully make their mark in the channels of KFJ racing. After a long and very arduous season the drivers had to once again muster up all their reserves this weekend for one final battle.
Since Sarno, Enaam Ahmed, the new kid on the block had fought his way to 5th place. No other rookie had ever achieved this but this weekend reputations meant nothing. You were just another driver that had to be beaten. The extraordinarily wet weather which greeted the Ricky Flynn Team upon their arrival to Bahrain was to be an omen for what lay ahead. Enaam despite having a virus was intent on racing and making an impression on the world stage. Tuesday and Wednesday was used as an opportunity for the Ricky Flynn Team to familiarise themselves to this new track and acclimatise to night racing under floodlights. Racing well into the night Enaam was clocking some of the fastest times but something wicked lay ahead. During a lap Enaam’s kart skidded and headed straight into a wall. To make matters worse as Enaam’s kart bounced off the wall another kart collided with it at very high speed. Both drivers were rushed by ambulance to hospital. Thankfully the drivers were not seriously injured. Enaam suffered whiplash injuries and was very shaken by the incident. Undeterred Enaam was not going to let this defeat him. He was going to race Thursday night and prepare for the biggest qualifying of his life.
Being in the second qualifying team allowed Enaam to get an idea of what sort of times he needed to qualify in pole position. The fastest times were coming late in the session from Alessio Lorandi (Italy) and Lando Norris (Great Britain). See link below.
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Unfortunately Enaam’s times were posting below par. However, in a last ditch effort, on the last lap, Enaam blew the competition away! Posting a lap time of 53.556 which was a massive 1.5 tenths faster than the rest of his competitors. Enaam had qualified pole at the World Championship with the fastest lap time in the world! He had qualified pole at the World Championship and was ecstatic!
On Friday for the heats Enaam arrived with a spring in his step. The start of the heats was difficult due to a sandy inside line, but he still managed to secure two wins and a third position. Maintaining the pole position from the previous evening meant for a lot of media attention for Enaam.
Saturday arrived and the strong desert sun provided the highest temperatures of the week. Racing in twenty six degree heat required Enaam to stay hydrated and keep focused in order to complete the long races into the night. The Pre-Final was 18km long, 12 laps of the tough Bahrain Circuit. The Grand Final would take place later that night and was double the length of the heats at 25km. Enaam pulled away at the Pre-Final gaining a 2 second lead in the early stages. It was looking like another win but the older and more experienced Russian Robert Swartzman closed down Enaam and took the win. Enaam would start fourth in the Grand Final. He was running purely on adrenaline and considering his health, had he left enough in the tank for the Final?
Starting on the outside row would prove difficult for Enaam; nevertheless, he battled his way to the inside and came out of the tough first corner in 5th place. Being smaller than other drivers, Enaam struggled to get temperature in his tyres early on in the race, and fell short of contact with the other drivers losing the front pack. Driving with a virus and whiplash was now beginning to take its toll. Fighting to stay in the race in the dark with the other 33 competitors, Enaam summoned up every ounce of energy he had and managed to claw his way back into 3rd position. But there was more drama still to unfold. Enaam was forced off line into the sand which knocked him further back in the grid. Exhausted and running on empty Enaam finished in a respectful 6th position. One thing for sure this 13 year old kid possesses is the raw will power to fight no matter what. To finish 5th overall in KFJ World Championship in his first year is a great accomplishment.
Enaam played a significant role in the biggest race of the season in Bahrain, starting in pole position on the Friday, and again in the finals on Saturday. Enaam’s father Shami explained “The lessons learnt as a rookie has positioned him as favourite for all the main championships in 2014”. A winter fitness regime and testing will keep Enaam primed for the 2014 onslaught where the goal is to win the European and World Championships.
Winners never quit and quitters never win.