Dubai Autodrome sees Sabah Mukri win hearts of racing community
Dubai, UAE, 24 February, 2016: Dubai resident Sabah Mukri made UAE motorsport history on Friday (19 February 2016) when she became the first female rider to compete in the UAE Sportbike Championship at Dubai Autodrome.
Riding a Yamaha, the 32 year old Indian expatriate won the hearts and minds of the racing community not only with her historic exploits but also her infectious enthusiasm which she showed throughout the race weekend.
On the day of her maiden UAE Sportbike Championship debut she competed in qualifying, then finished 12th in Race 1 and 11th in Race 2.
Asked how she felt after her memorable day she replied with huge grin, “I am over the moon and so happy to be part of it. The experience was amazing.”
Speaking about the first of the two races, Mukri said, “I was saying to myself don’t stall. I was thinking let’s have a decent start and I must concentrate. It was my first ever race start and honestly I did not know what to expect. The first race was just like an ice-breaker. The start wasn’t too good.”
Later in the day, in the second race, with nerves and adrenalin under control it was a different story for Sabah. “In the first race everyone disappeared from the moment the race started. But in race two it was so much better – I nailed it! I overtook a few guys. It was awesome.”
As for the ‘fast boys’ such as champions Abdulaziz Binladen and Mahmoud Tannir, Mukri was full of praise and admiration. “Those guys at the front are fast, very fast! Man the pace was amazing. Nothing like a track day,” she said.
Track days at the Autodrome are where riders can bring their motorcycles and ride at high speeds in controlled and safe conditions. It is the stage where enthusiasts can mingle and share the track with the more experienced racers. It is this community of riders from which Mukri, and other rookie riders in the UAE, have emerged.
“Riders who think racing is like a track day, it is not. Racing takes riding to another level. Track day riders really have to try it. It is so worth it because when you are on the grid, that feeling… there is nothing like it,” explained Mukri.
As for the ‘woman in a man’s world’ cliché, Mukri said, “I cannot explain how much support I have had. Everyone has been right behind me, encouraging me throughout, helping me out and giving advice.
“I am really shocked, I thought it would be like a sexist thing but instead it has been amazing how much the racing and motorcycle community have done for me. I am so proud to be part of this.”
Although many think motorsport is a one-man show, or in this case a one-woman show, Mukri points out it is far from the case. “Vendetta Racing are the team that made this dream of mine come true. They sponsored, helped me prepare my bike and helped me get sponsors.”
And who to thank? “Man, there are so many to name… I can say all the racers were there ready to help me whenever I needed it. They are amazing.”
As for the future, she’s looking forward, “I cannot wait to be back. You will see me again. It’s addictive, amazing, amazing! Next race I will be there. Next race baby!”
Fellow biking enthusiast and Dubai Autodrome Motorsport Club (DAMC) competitor liaison Richa Mergulhao commented, “It is a great achievement. Sabah has broken the barrier, especially in this region, that motorcycle racing is a man’s world. She has done brilliantly.
“I think it will encourage others to take the leap from track days to racing,” predicts Mergulhao, before adding mischievously, “After all, if a woman can do it, there are no excuses left for other male track day riders!”
Mergulhao concluded, “To be committed and make that move from track days to racing is a big deal, especially being the first female rider to race. Sabah is definitely a role model to other riders looking to make the transition.”
The next UAE Sportbike Championship race takes place at the Autodrome on 11 March 2016, where Mukri will be on the grid, a huge grin clearly visible to all under her helmet, and continuing to make her mark on UAE motorsport.