Excellence Academy drivers’ race heats up

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Excellence Academy drivers’ race heats up

The competition to win a place in the FIA Institute’s 2013/14 Young Driver Excellence Academy reaches its climax in Abu Dhabi tomorrow at the end of three days of rigorous testing and evaluation for some of the rising stars of regional motor sport.

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Published: Wed 25 Sep 2013, 12:15 PM

Last updated: Sat 4 Apr 2015, 9:11 AM

The 15 drivers who have been taking part in the Middle East and Mediterranean selection event will be reduced to five for an afternoon on-track shoot-out at the home of November’s F1 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix prior to the winner being announced.

The driver who secures a place on the Academy’s fully-funded training programme will earn the distinction based not only on driving skills, but also on physical fitness, mental sharpness, and ability to deal with the pressures and responsibility brought by a top level career in motor sport.

Organised by the Automobile and Touring Club of the UAE on behalf of the FIA Institute, the selection event is one of five being staged worldwide to deliver eight of the best young talents into the Academy, which aims to help drivers develop their motor sport careers, with a focus on safety throughout.

Among those hoping to be confirmed as the winner tomorrow by ATCUAE President Dr Mohammed bin Sulayem were the UAE’s Mansour Al Helei, Bahrain’s Abdulla Althawadi, Kuwait’s Zaid Ashkanani, Saudi Arabia’s Abdullah Bamogaddam, Oman’s Mannan Al Rawahi and Jordan’s Izz Bustami.

Also taking part in a second day of tests on the track, in the gym and in the classroom today at Yas Marina Circuit were drivers nominated by the national motor sport authorities in Cyprus, Egypt, Georgia, Iran, Morocco, Sudan, Syria, Turkey, and Germany. The Palestinian nominee, Noor Daoud, was a late withdrawal.

The need for drivers to achieve very high fitness levels, and understand the effects of motor sport on their bodies, was underlined by Dr Tony Turner, a sports scientist at the University of Edinburgh who is one of the selection event’s expert instructors.

“We always think of motor sport at the top level of being very skill-based, and obviously you have to be a very good driver to succeed,” said Dr Turner. “But for anyone competing at the top level, their body is subjected to a lot of stress, and so there are a lot of other considerations.

Added Dr Turner: “As part of the selection process, we’re teaching the drivers more about fitness, and their bodies. We’re looking at which parts of the body come under most stress in motor sport.

“We’re not just looking at who is the fittest. We’re interested in the potential of the drivers, so we’re assessing how well they learn from our instruction, do they try really hard, do they contribute as a member of group to each other? “

The selection process continues tomorrow morning, with each of the drivers being interviewed by a judging panel consisting of ATCUAE Motorsport Director Ronan Morgan, senior driving instructor Norbert Filipits and the FIA Institute’s Kate Robson.



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