Khaled Al Qubaisi is racing to success, crashing out the competition
As a youngster, Khaled Al Qubaisi loved to drive, getting behind the wheel when he was just eight years old. However, opportunities for skilled drivers were few and far between back then so off he went to university to study business.
Having realised his dream of becoming a professional racer just four years ago after beating Formula One driver Luca Badoer at a karting event in Abu Dhabi, Khaled is on the road to success - taking part in the gruelling ‘24 Hours of Le Mans’ race this weekend.
Combining life as a businessman, endurance racer and dad of four isn’t easy but Khaled explains dedication and an ability to multi-task help make it possible...
24-hour racing sounds so tiring, how do you manage it?
Basically what we do is drive as long as the fuel tank can take us. At Le Mans, one stint is about one hour and we might do double stints, which means driving for two hours at a time before stopping and the other driver taking over.
If we do two hours, we’ll rest for maybe four. On average each driver will drive about eight hours. It’s a lot of driving, a lot of effort, you get tired and you get cramps if your body’s not well prepared. You have to have experience of doing the race and be physically prepared.
So how do you train your body for it?
I try to prepare as much as I can. The last three months in particular I’ve been trying to establish a high level of stamina by exercising hard at the gym, doing classes to raise my fitness level. I need to replicate my efforts in the race, which means doing one to two hours training where my heart rate is 140/ 150bpm (beats per minute) because that’s what my heart rate is during the race. I need to maintain that without getting tired and I need to do it for eight hours over a 24-hour period.
I go out running as well, even when it’s hot. I try to make use of my time as much as I can so when I go out running, I get my kids out on the bicycles and run with them.
It’s not easy to do it especially when you have three full-time jobs. I’m head of Human Capital at Mubadala, chairman of the largest health insurance company in the region and managing director of the biggest district cooling company in the world. I also sit on the board of five major private and public companies - one of which I am chairman, so I have so much pressure from work.
I usually work 10-12 hours a day so that’s why I try to combine exercising with spending time with my kids.
You have an incredibly busy life. Do you ever get bored when you’re driving for two hours at a time?
No. You can’t think about anything else when you’re driving. You can’t afford to have anything come into your mind as you have to remain 100 per cent focused all the time. It’s not easy especially in my case when I have so many things going on in work and so many responsibilities but I have to remember, the second that something comes into my mind when I’m racing can cause an accident. I try to forget about everything else when im racing.
What does your family make of your racing career?
My family support me. If you don’t know the sport you think it’s dangerous but actually it’s very safe if you know what you’re doing, train properly and have the right experience.
I’m driving every day, the level of safety in the car and the track is very high and I’m racing against professionals. I have two daughters - 13 and 11, and two boys - nine and four, they understand what I do and my oldest daughter is actually quite good at driving and wants to pursue motorsports herself.
I would support her to do that definitely. I support her right now to go karting and practise. She started riding quad bikes when she was three years old, she learns so fast so who knows!
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