Mohammed Al Balooshi embarks on what is seen as his last round in the FIM World Cross Country Championship for bikes, but the only UAE rider is undaunted despite knowing that this will be his last ride in the series in the absence of sponsors for him to try and get to the chequered flag, with another two rounds remaining.
Sport360 had a quick chat ahead of the Pharaohs Rally which commences today and ends on May 17.
You had a good first round in Abu Dhabi, so went wrong in Qatar?
Nothing went wrong in Qatar. Sealine Rally is one of the toughest and most demanding rallies in the calendar, and we managed to finish in top 10.
At the same time we put on a big amount of kilometers on the rally bike and did a lot of super difficult navigation training!
Also weather conditions were very tough and added up a lot to the experience too. Of course as a racer you always would like to improve something in your riding, but my team and I are satisfied with the work done and the experience attained so far.
In racing sometimes you finish first and sometimes you don’t, but it is always that hunger forimproving your skillsand for growing into a better and faster rider and that keep you running and hooked forever.
— Espíritu Dakar (@EspirituDakar) April 21, 2015
You just want to be better! And I am very proud to say that my development into a rally rider is steady and I am today a much better rider than I was one year ago.
I am fully prepared, much fitter than before and I am a more complete rider than before. Now I need to put in lots of kilometers and navigation practice and that is exactly what we got at Sealine Rally Qatar.
How have you prepared for Egypt?
I just got back to my training routine. Rallies are very tough and after five days of riding for more than 500km per day in average and in very high temperatures, you need to allow the body to recover with the appropriate training.
I usually take one day off after rallies and then resume the training. I do physical, riding and some navigation. Even though I have been a professional athlete for over a decade, it is always good to train with specialist and have professionals to help.
I am very lucky to have Sport2 Sports Management and Red Bull who support me and make sure I get the best professional support always. I have professionals checking and assisting with my training programs, health and nutrition.
What will be your strategy at Pharaons Rally?
I know that “strategy” is a word that we’ve heard a lot in cross country rally this season, but to be honest, my strategy will be the same as always: Prepare well, work very hard and give my absolute best every single time I go out there.
That’s pretty much it; I will just do my best because that is what I have been training for for over a year now, plus I owe It to my team, my family, friends and sponsors that support me.
How strong is the field in Egypt, with some of the big names are missing?
Yes, some names are missing, but Pharaons Rally is one of the most legendary events in the full championship.
It has gained its reputation of “tough rally” after leaving many big names of cross country at the side of the road and only dreaming about the finish line.
This is my first time at Pharaons Rally Egypt and even though I am prepared and confident, I have huge respect for it! This year the single central bivouac will make everyone’s lives easier, but anyways, it will be no walk in the park at all!
Do you intend to do all the rounds in the championship?
As of today we have the budget until Egypt only; which means that once this race is finished, we will have done rounds 1, 2 and 3 of the World Championship… and with only 2 rounds in, we sit in 6th position in the World Championship.
If you think about it, it’s really awesome! We are a small team with a small budget racing in a 2014 bike; and with very hard work and a lot of heart we managed to squeeze in between the super powerful factory riders and teams in the world ranking. It’s just fabulous!
My team will keep working on finding sponsors and of course we dream about a full programme that includes Dakar, but sometimes it is not so easy to get the support you need.
— Thuraya Telecom (@ThurayaTelecom) May 10, 2015
Please allow me to thank the companies that believed in me and supported me in this challenge!
I need to thank Sport2 Sport Management for giving me the push and making me believe in myself again, and Yahsat Smart Satellite Solutions, Pride Ride, RedBull and Abu Dhabi Aviation for their wonderful support.
Also Thuraya Telecom, Oakley and 2XU Compression for accompanying us, and dreaming with us.
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