Khaled Al Qubaisi, left, in the pit area at the Dubai Kartodrome. Jeffrey Biteng / The National
Khaled Al Qubaisi, left, in the pit area at the Dubai Kartodrome. Jeffrey Biteng / The National

The most important thing for endurance racer Khaled Al Qubaisi is ‘to really shut off’



Ahead of the start of the Dubai 24 Hours, starting Friday, the Emirati driver, who is bidding to win the event for a third time, talks about the challenges of the event and handling a day’s racing.

Happy times

Al Qubaisi is the only Emirati racer to have stood on the top step of the event since the first race in 2006. He was part of the winning team in both the 2012 and 2013 races, and he will compete this weekend in Team Abu Dhabi Racing Falcon’s Mercedes-AMG GT3 along with Maro Engel, Hubert Haupt, Jeroen Bleekemolen and Indy Dontje.

First race memories

“It was in 2011,” he said. “We were in a Porsche then and finished fourth with a driveshaft problem. I said to myself, ‘Wow, it’s the first time I do a 24 Hours and we could have won it if it wasn’t for our technical problems’. So I said, ‘I am definitely coming back next year’ and that’s when I switched completely to endurance racing.”

Instincts

On what you need to do well and succeed at the race at Dubai Autodrome, Al Qubaisi said: “This race has its own kind of style because there are a lot of cars and you really need to survive the first 12 hours. Sometimes, that might mean, you have to really hold back and not go too fast, which goes against the instincts of a racing driver.”

Sleep pattern

“What usually happens is after I drive, I have a discussion with my engineer, I try to have something to eat and then I go to just shut off, someplace where its quiet and peaceful, close my eyes for a few minutes and get as much rest as I can. That is the most important thing, to really shut off.”

Demanding schedule

“I actually have someone to help me out with all this,” Al Qubaisi explains of his schedule. “So we arrange some time for the sponsors, some time for guests, fans, so that when I need to rest, I have my time to rest.”

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