Sheikh Hasher Al Maktoum is quietly confident ahead of the fourth round of the Speedcar Series at the Dubai Autodrome this weekend.
The Emirati driver will be racing alongside ex-Formula One drivers such as Johnny Herbert, Jacques Villeneuve and Jean Alesi in the second season of the series.
"Last season, when I began I was inexperienced and it was a new thing for me, but now I'm looking forward to doing my best – especially this weekend on our home circuit," said Sheikh Hasher.
"Normally, the goal is to win, but driving against top drivers – ex-F1 drivers – as long as you have a good weekend and stay out of trouble that is good.
"But on my home circuit, where I started and spent most of my time, I should know it well and will try to do my best, especially to please the fans."
The manager of Sheikh Hasher's Union Properties team, David Terrien, says the Emirati driver could have a bright future in the sport.
"Realistically, he may be a bit too old to enter the existing routes into Formula One, but that doesn't mean there is no possibility for him to have a good motor racing career," said Terrien of the 23-year-old, who last season won the Rookie Driver of the Year for the Speedcar Series.
"Looking at the way he drives and his performances, I think he would be a fantastic entrance driver. I can't remember him crashing the car on his own, ever. Of course he has been pushed out, but on his own he has managed to stay out of trouble and he is very consistent."
Terrien, a successful driver himself, has been a mentor to Sheikh Hasher for the past three years and says it brings him great joy to watch the two-time UAE Karting Champion progress.
"I enjoy seeing Sheikh Hasher improving so much," said the 32-year-old. "I remember watching him a few years ago and he hardly followed a fight. Whenever there was one he was pulling back.
"Now if you look at him, two rounds ago he was fighting with [Heinz Herald] Frentzen – and Frentzen has been second in the F1 championships. They spent two laps side by side overtaking each other and pushing one another on the straights. Who would have imagined that two years ago?
"It is very rewarding to see your student improving so much and fighting with ex-F1 drivers."
On the track, the Union Properties team are second in the Team Championships, while Sheikh Hasher lies seventh overall among the drivers. His teammate Vitantonio Liuzzi lies third overall.
"Liuzzi is very fast and we won the first race here in Dubai. He has got used to the series, it was more contact than he is used to, but we have great hopes for the weekend," said Terrien.
"Of course, everyone wants Sheikh Hasher to win or be on the podium, but you have to be realistic. He is only in his third year of racing and he is fighting with guys that have been racing Formula One for 10 to 15 years, so what I'm asking him is to be the first non-F1 driver."
After the Speedcar Series, Terrien is hoping to persuade Sheikh Hasher to progress his race career overseas.
"I hope he will find a budget to race after Speedcar, because this is a winter series and there is plenty of time to race in Europe in the summer. I think he will impress a lot of guys.
"He loves Le Mont, I think he knows the track off by heart now by playing it on his Playstation and he has watched so many videos on it. I would love to see him racing there and if I can help him to get a drive I will."
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