Newly-crowned FIM world champion Mohammad Al Balooshi admitted he feared for his title chances following his concussion in April’s Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge.
The Emirati rider won the Bajas World Championship in Hungary by a margin of six points at the weekend in a tricky third and final round in Veszprem.
The feat meant Al Balooshi became the UAE’s first-ever FIM world champion but it was an emotional journey in getting his hands on the title.
The 38-year-old was out of action for 10 weeks after being knocked unconscious during April’s Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge. Although he was discharged from hospital in 48 hours, the impact of the accident meant Al Balooshi was back on the wheels in mid-June. He wasn’t at his best in his first outing – the second round in Aragon but was still in the title mix going into Hungary.
With the trophy won, Al Balooshi opened up on how difficult it was to stand top of the podium.
“It wasn’t easy because I was off the training programme for around 10 weeks and didn’t do anything during that time,” he told Sport360.
“In the Baja Aragon it was really uncomfortable because it was the first race. I didn’t think about the crash too much but the way I was riding, it was in the back of my head and just managed to collect points. I went to Hungary and it was similar but it was better because I was fast and knew what I needed to do to secure the title. You have to ride smart at times. I had everything to lose and the championship was in my hand. But I have been in this situation before and I just wanted to focus on the task.”
The Abu Dhabi native will continue racing in regional and UAE-based races until the end of the year before flying out for next year’s Dakar Rally in January.
He isn’t getting too carried away on his title chances in South American but insists progress will be key.
“I want to improve my result and I feel there should be progress every year. I don’t believe in jumping big steps and it’s important to finish high. Last year I finished 32nd and next year the aim would be to half that and anywhere in 15th position would be good,” he added.