CIK-FIA World Junior Championship: Shihab comes fourth at worlds
It was a sensational Sunday for 13 year old Shihab al Habsi. The talented Omani go-karting champion made the world notice his sheer talent and skill as he came very close to winning a podium finish in the CIK-FIA World Junior Championship at the Paul Fletcher International (PFI) circuit in Grantham, UK.
Despite the disappointment of missing a podium finish, Shihab achieved the best-ever position by an Omani at the worlds as he bagged a creditable fourth place among the best 34 drivers in OK Junior class.
Shihab, who has proved his immense potential in regional competitions for the past couple of years, was in full form on Sunday as he clocked the best lap of 57.128s in the 12th of the 19 laps and ended 7.829s behind the eventual winner, Dexter Patterson of Forza Racing.
Racing for Msport Karting, Shihab finished behind Christopher Lulham and Harry Thompson with the gap between Thompson and the Omani a mere 4.091s.
The fourth-place finish was praiseworthy for Shihab as he had qualified 15th on the grid for the final race earlier in the day and came up with an inspired performance to get past 11 drivers in the final race.
“I feel delighted to have finished fourth as I had to get past 11 drivers in a race where the world's best were competing. It would have been great if I could have been on the podium but I tried my best,” Shihab told Muscat Daily by phone after the race.
“It was a very hard race as I was up against some of the most experienced European drivers. But I fought hard and I am happy to have finished P4. It is an honour to represent Oman at this prestigious championship and earn such a position,” he said.
“I struggled a lot during heats but this is racing and with different conditions, it was always a challenge to race against drivers from Europe who are more used to the conditions here. It is nice to be among the top-five.” It was only in May that Shihab claimed his first podium place in an European race (X30 Euro Series in Salbris, France) as he prepared for this world meet. Shihab added, “The result gives me lot of confidence to prepare for my next world championship at Le Mans in France next month.”
The CIK-FIA meet comprised OK and OK Junior classes with 185 drivers making it to the event with the junior championship attracting 94 entries. Shihab’s father-cum-manager, Ahmed al Habsi said that he was proud of his son’s achievement and despite not racing for the best team, Shihab managed to take on established teams and prove his potential at the world championship.