Shonal is Dubai O-Plate winner

January 22, 2019

Shonal Kunimal drives his kart during one of the time trials in the Dubai O-Plate Bambino Cup race in Dubai, UAE, on Friday

Shonal Kunimal, the seven year old Indian go-karting talent from Muscat, has had a stellar start to the 2018-2019 season, winning an astonishing eight from the nine starts so far across three series last year.

With the winter break in the three series still on, top kart racers from the GCC and around the world arrived at the Dubai Kartdrome to challenge in the two-day 2019 Dubai O-Plate Championship on Friday and Saturday.

Shonal began the new year in style with a dominating performance as he set the tracks ablaze to claim the prestigious IAME Bambino Cup on Friday.

Shonal's win earned the Indian School Ghubra - International (ISG-I) student a Parolin Cadet chassis complete with IAME 60cc Cadet engine, as well as a month’s testing with the George Gibbons Motorsport squad.

A total of 130 drivers entered to compete for bragging rights and prizes, and by the end of the race weekend ten champions were crowned on the 1.2-km international circuit.

Besides Shonal, the drivers who won the top honours to badge their kart with the famous yellow O-Plate included Liam Crystal, Rami Azzam, Valerio Rinicella, Filippo Parmeggiani, Jamie Day, Saeed al Ali, Antony Hogg, Hussain Umid Ali and Atef al Barwani.

Shonal underlined his credentials as a future racing star as he swept the top spots in the four time trials.

Shonal was perfect in the contest, and he was the only driver to consistently lap below the 1:15s mark. 

Lennard Titica was trailing Shonal the entire day but he could only close the gap down to 0.884 seconds and settle for second-place. Nicholas Stura was also right in mix, but could claim only third.

Shonal owed a lot of his successful start to the new year to his chief mechanic, Leanardo Abalos of the Philippines, who accompanied him for the race from Muscat, courtesy Al Wahaibi Motor Sports (WMS).

Having won the first two time trials comfortably, Shonal suffered a bout of fever and dehydration. But with his mother, Nabrees Qandeel, around, things became bit easier as Nabrees is a  doctor by profession. Shonal not only managed to recover but also won the next two time trials

Shonal also achieved a record lap-time of 1m:13.129s, the fastest lap time ever in the Dubai O-Plate, in the third time-trial on the seventh lap.

Shonal's coach Sanad al Rawahi lauded the display and said, “He is a dedicated racer and works very hard. He is very talented and always eager to learn. He has got the potential and deserved to win the title.”