Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 29 September 2020

UAE in focus: Cato Poulsen hopes to use Formula Ford as a stepping stone to the big time

Young Dane Cato Poulsen is making a name for himself on the UAE racing scene, writes Ahmed Rizvi.
Photograph of Cato Poulsen, centre. Courtesy Formula Gulf 1000
Photograph of Cato Poulsen, centre. Courtesy Formula Gulf 1000

Cato Poulsen was only two years old when his father Teite, a motorsports enthusiast working in Colorado at the time, bought a Corvette and started taking part in the amateur class of the Super Stock series.

“It was just a street Corvette and it was just time trials, meaning just getting the fastest way around the track, trying to learn that,” Teite said. “That inspired him,” he said in reference to his son. “He started coming to watch and then it didn’t take that long for things to turn around. Then it was him driving and me just supporting him.”

The Poulsens moved back to their home country Denmark when Cato was eight. Two years later, he was on the kart tracks, taking his first steps towards what looks a bright future in motorsports.

Cato, 16, has moved on from the karts since and is driving meaner machines now, competing the UAE’s single-seater national championship, the Formula Gulf. Going into the penultimate weekend of the series at Yas Marina Circuit, he sits top of the championship standings with 238 points, an 85-point lead over Saudi Arabia’s Mashhur Bal Hejaila.

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Are you enjoying the Formula Gulf series and driving on circuits like the Yas Marina and Dubai Autodrome?

It is a very good series. We all have equal cars and all have the same data. So Mash [his nearest rival Bal Hejaila] can also see where and when I break and turn, and so on. So it’s a very good series, especially for learning, and a stepping stone to get into a higher series in future.

What got you interested in motorsports?

My dad was really into racing cars, so he was able to buy a Corvette, which he raced in the stock car class in the US. He passed that interest onto me, so I also got really into cars. Then we saw an opportunity to drive in a kart, and which I thought was really fun, and then, we have driven ever since.

When did you start karting?

I started karting when I was 10 years old in the summer in Denmark. I found it to be great fun, exciting and a demanding sport. When you are driving at more than 100km per hour, just 2cm above the ground, surrounded by other drivers as you negotiate sharp hairpin bends, it requires a lot of concentration, a super physique and lots of training.

You have just celebrated your 16th birthday. Are you happy with how your career is shaping up?

It’s hard to say what the future is going to bring because there are many different ways I can go – a lot of different teams, different prices and so on. But hopefully, I will be in a Formula series for next season, which could be Formula Four or Formula Renault.

You took part in the Danish Formula Ford championship this year. How did that go?

It was a really good learning experience for me, to learn how cars handle without any downforce, or how suspensions influence the car when breaking and pressing the throttle, and such things.

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Updated: March 15, 2016 04:00 AM

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