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Harmed Debut

Harmed Debut


After the exclusion of Israeli drivers, and cancellation of the first day track sessions, the Middle East Karting Cup (MEKC) championship got going successfully against all odds with 28 drivers from nine countries participating.

Middle East Karting Cup, Round 1  Sharm El Sheikh (ET)
19th January 2008


After the exclusion of Israeli drivers, and cancellation of the first day track sessions, the Middle East Karting Cup (MEKC) championship got going successfully against all odds with 28 drivers from nine countries participating.

A difficult start for MEKC, forced to cancel the first day track sessions for all participants after the parts and chassis of some drivers arrived late on the morning of day 2 of the opening round due to delays with the freight forwarding companies. Another dilemma was the controversy over Israeli participation in the championship, with more than 12 drivers canceling their participation the week previous the event for unspecified reasons.
The press release stated: ‘The subject of Israeli driver’s participation in MEKC 2008 was brought up against the Automobile & Touring Club of Egypt (ATCE). The accusation has caused huge controversy in the media and among the Club of Judges. During a press conference Counselor Mokbel Shaker, current Head of the Egyptian High Court, confirmed the non participation of Israeli drivers of both Israeli and Palestinian identity for 1st round of MEKC. The decision was based on unsubstantiated and inaccurate facts, as was made clear by the drivers register for the championship, which was present at the press conference.’

It is always difficult and ill-advised to give an opinion over delicate issues such as this one, without knowing all facts and circumstances. However, we want to comment, using our common basic feelings and values. We are sure that everyone shares our view on what sport is and does: sport should reunite people and cultures, in a feast of joy and fair competition. These are the values that make the concept of sport universally, and unconditionally, accepted. When these values get corrupted in any way, sadness, and a heavy feeling of impotence spreads through our minds and souls. Our hope is that sport is treated for what it is, and not used for political or religious aims, corrupting its universal nature.


Despite all this, the first round took place at Ghibli Raceway in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt. High profile government officials were in attendance including the Governor of South Sinai, General Hani Mettwali and officials from the Ministry of Tourism, as well as all board members of the Automobile and Touring Club of Egypt (ATCE). More than 45 members of the press and four Television channels (Channel 2, Orbit, Hurra and Gear One) also attended the event.
The 20 laps Junior final saw Russian driver Stephan Karasev keeping the lead off the start and holding his position to the chequered flag, just like George, who started from second and kept his position easily. Third spot favourite Samra went off track losing valuable time, giving Mazen Badawy from Egypt the chance to move up to third place and hold it to the end of the race.
The 33 km final (25 laps) was the highlight of the event. As predicted, Austrian Kevin Richard dominated the event and sealed his first place on the podium just after three laps off the start with a lap time of 1’00”890, the fastest achieved throughout the entire event. Jordanian champion Hamza Dirani finished second undisturbed, while Ahmed Zidan, representing Egypt, suffered brakes problem that put him out of the competition, leaving De Marchi to take third podium spot.


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