INTERVIEW | Aqil Alibhai, 15, from SA on racing for Ginetta Cars in Europe and his F1 dream

  • Aqil Alibhai started racing karts when he was four years old.
  • He regularly travels to the UK from SA to compete in the Ginetta Cars Cup.
  • The 15-year-old is determined to prove himself to earn a place in F1.
  • For motoring news, go to Wheels24

Born and raised in Gauteng, where the air is thin and the pace is fast, aqil alibhai believes that motorsport is life, and has dedicated his life to it.

The 15-year-old Ginetta Cars driver/student fondly remembers his first stint behind the wheel of a racing kart at the tender age of four. He is only 15 years old, but Alibhai has more than a decade of experience as a competitive driver.

We caught up with the youngster to find out what it’s like to race in Europe, his ambitions for the future and what he thinks about the changing world of motorsport.

aqil alibhai

aqil alibhai

Motoring is in his blood

“I got into motorsport from a very young age. My father put me in my first go-kart when I was four years old, and I remember being pulled around the go-kart track with a rope attached to the go-kart,” he says.

Being towed around the track allowed him to learn how to take different racing lines and how to handle the harsh feedback from the steering and brakes in a heavily motorized vehicle. Braking in a straight line was a challenge, but he quickly learned and was able to compete in his first regional kart race at the age of four. From there, his bug had bitten, and his bite was deep.

“My father raced motorcycles and my late brother was also a race car driver, so I had motor racing in my family, but after driving in my first race and then more races that year, I knew it was something I had to do. for me”. the rest of my life,” he adds.

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Since his breakthrough year at the age of four, Alibhai has grown and developed his talents on bigger and bigger karts. He recently joined the Ginetta Cars Cup in the UK. This rookie league allows competitors to compete alongside some of the UK’s biggest racing series on Formula One tracks such as Silverstone. He wants to prove himself in this league, as he is a springboard to opportunities to join a leading racing team.

“The jump from karts to the tin-top series has been a challenge, but I feel very comfortable in my new race car. It’s fast and handles very well. It’s teaching me to push myself as a driver and learn more about cars.” . control,” he notes. “One of my favorite street cars is the Porsche 911 GT3 that I’ve driven on the track, and I really enjoy pushing cars like this to the limit to learn more about driving and more about myself.”

aqil alibhai

Aqil Alibhai leading the pack.

Aim for a seat in F1

Alibhai juggles his online school career, travels to the UK to test drive vehicles, and his life as a boy with poise. “I manage my time efficiently and spend time at school and racing. It’s hard, especially now that I’m fasting, which can take a toll on the body. However, I’ve been training all my life and I can easily manage my body and mind and maintain discipline and focus. I’m in this to finally drive in Formula One, and I know that if I maintain my focus and discipline, I can achieve it,” he says.

He says racing in Europe can be particularly challenging during the fasting period due to the sun’s position in the sky. “There the days are longer, and sometimes I have to go 14-16 hours between meals, but it’s all about discipline, and I know that when it’s a race weekend, my body is ready to focus on winning. I hope that my performance this year will bring opportunities to join a professional racing team. I love F1, but I also enjoy Formula E and the GT racing series,” he explains.

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Alibhai says that the changes in the world of motorsport are welcome. “I like the new energy in Formula One and the addition of more street circuits. I know street circuits put more pressure on the driver’s body, but you have to be very technical to do it well, and I enjoy technical driving.” Explain.

He says that while his goal is to drive in F1 soon, he will be happy to prove himself in a GT car in a drag racing league. “Endurance racing requires focus, and you have to be committed to long hours behind the wheel. I like this because the more time I can spend in a car, the better driver I can become,” he says.

He says that Sebastian Vettel was one of his hero drivers when he was younger and, in fact, one of Alibhai’s first racing helmets was based on a Vettel design. He didn’t side with any particular team, but he does say that he sees as many races as he can in all formulas.

aqil alibhai

aqil alibhai

Future plans

“My dream is to become a Formula One driver or a professional motorsport driver, but if that doesn’t happen I know I’ll get involved in motorsport. I’m interested in electric cars and how these cars are changing the way the world works.” . a lot of racing series use electrical power in some form, so I’m always thinking about how the industry is changing,” he explains.

Alibhai says his goal for 2022 is to perform at his best in the Ginetta Cars Junior Cup. “From here we’ll see what happens, but I plan to keep my head in the game and just train my mind and body to get better and better. This year, I want to win the championship. I want people, sponsors, and teams to see that I am a worthy driver. I can only do this if I have a good mentality and I am very blessed to be where I am now, but I always have the goal of being better. and go a little faster,” he concludes. .

aqil alibhai

aqil alibhai

Aqil Alibhai will kick off his 2022 UK campaign this month on April 23 at Donnington Park alongside Team Elite. His last race of the season will take place in October at the Brands Hatch GP circuit. He will be traveling to the races and continuing his education online.

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