Muscat – The tenacious spirit of a ten-year-old Muscat-based racer was exhibited in good measure at the Al Forsan International Kart Circuit in Abu Dhabi, UAE, recently.
Down with fever and finding himself without his coach ahead of the race, Shonal Kunimal decided that the best way to beat his illness and his nerves was to climb the podium.
The Indian School Ghubra (ISG) student, who is a regular face in the regional karting circuit over the past four years, put up a spirited show at the Al Forsan circuit to claim the third place (Micro Max category) in the seventh round of the 2021-22 UAE Rotax Max Challenge.
It was the second successive podium finish for Shonal, who had also claimed the third place in the previous round held at the Yas Marina International Circuit in Abu Dhabi last month.
Russian racer Maxim Bobreshov continued his winning streak to be virtually assured of the championship honours with two more rounds to go.
Greek racer Leonidas Peruzzi, who is involved with a close battle with Shonal took the runner-up spot to stay marginally ahead.
After seven rounds, Maxim leads the championship standings with 685 points. Leonidas remains in second place with 597 while Shonal, with 557, is third.
Shonal has now been on the podium on four occasions, including a runner-spot, in this season. He had back-to-back top-three places in round three and four while he missed narrowly a podium in the opening two races and was fifth in the fifth round.
The UAE Rotax Max Challenge is one of the most popular go-karting series in the region and is held in six categories with Micro Max featuring the youngest racers.
Coached by former Oman go-karting star Sanad al Rawahi, Shonal trailed the winner by 4.099 seconds in the final race. Leonidas finished 0.316secs behind Maxim.
The race was reduced by three laps for a total of eight laps following an incident involving Darek Rivera of Spain. Eight racers lined up for the final race with Oman’s Adam Awan finishing fourth.
Adam came 5.900secs behind Maxim. The Omani racer is overall eighth in the championship standings after missing previous two rounds.
Shonal’s best lap in the final race was clocked at 1:03.461 while Maxim had the fastest to his credit with a time of 1:02.333.
Shonal managed to bag third place in the qualifying, heat and pre-final races at the Al Forsan circuit, where he returned after a gap of four years. His previous race at the venue was in the Bambino category in 2018.
With two more rounds remaining, each racer has a chance to pocket a total of 200 points. A maximum of 100 points is at stake in each round with 40 for a race win and 30 points each for winning the pre-final and heat race. Later speaking after an exhausting race, Shonal said, “It was an enriching experience at the venue, where I was racing for the first time.
“With my coach guiding me through Zoom, it was a tricky round. I am happy that I could finish on the podium. I look forward to the next two rounds and hope to finish higher in the overall championship.
“It is still a close affair with Leonidas as only 40 points separate us. I will try my best to get past him.”