Haythem Al Zadjali -- following father's footsteps to rally success.
Muscat: The next leg of the Oman Youth Rally Cup (OYRC) could not have come at a better time for Haythem Khalid Soomar Al Zadjali, who wants to follow in his father's footsteps to achieve national-championship fame en route to a career as a professional rally driver. The 24-year-old student, chosen to alternate behind the wheel of one of the four OYRC teams, makes his debut in Round 2 on April 11 and 12, after sitting out the opening event earlier this month. "I'm very excited and eagerly awaiting my chance," said Haythem, who is partnered by co-driver Ammar Hussain Al Bulushi. "This is the only thing on my mind right now. I enjoyed watching the first round; it was a learning experience for me. But now, I'm raring to go." Haythem has inherited his passion for rallying from his father, Khalid, who was an Oman champion in 2008, 2009, and 2011 and is the uncle of another OYRC driver, Ehab Ahmed Al Zadjali. The connections don't end there. Khalid's co driver, during his three triumphant Oman championship campaigns, was Zakariya Ahmed Al Aufi, who currently leads the early OYRC standings, after making a successful switch from navigator to the driver's seat in Round 1. Haythem was quick to respond when the OYRC programme was announced two months ago and was thrilled to make it through the intense selection process, seeing a clear opportunity to continue his development as a competitive driver. He underlined his driving skills on the local karting scene in Muscat in 2004--2005, finishing third overall in the season's long open class at the Oman Automobile Club and claiming the runner-up position at the Muscat Festival event. "I want to be a professional rally driver and to compete in the Middle East Championship," he stated. "The Oman Youth Rally Cup will help because it is teaching me a lot about how to control the car and is giving me a lot of experience. "The opportunity to drive an actual rally car attracted me to the programme. This is my dream, and I'm very happy to be a part of this project. "It was very tough to get through the selection process because there were many people competing and all of them were very good. All the tests were tough. Now, I have my chance in Round 2, and I want to start with a win." Over the last two weeks, the OYRC teams have made it through intensive programmes, including drift training and baseline fitness assessments comprising sprints, static jumps, and 2-kilometre-long endurance runs, as they continue preparations for the upcoming Round 2 next month. Haythem will take over from Yaqdhan Mubarak Al Rashdi--lying in third after Round 1--in one of the four locally built Toyota Yaris rally cars that were especially designed for the OYRC. He already knows the importance of quickly striking up a good understanding with co-driver Ammar Hussain Al Bulushi, a 22-year-old accounting student at Sultan Qaboos University. "You can run into trouble if you and your co-driver don't communicate properly," he said. "It's vitally important to listen to him to avoid problems." The OYRC is officially supported by Oman Air Cargo, Oman Sail, DR Karts, and Sparco and runs within the Oman Rally Championship, which consists of five rounds and reaches its climax in December. The winners of the inaugural OYRC will be decided by a scoring system that combines rally results, fitness assessments, the completion of training, and performance in a year-long series of road-safety-linked community events.
Muscat Press and Publishing House SAOC 2013
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