Hamad Al Fardan in 2007 British F3 International Series

Bahrain's rising motor sport star Hamad Al Fardan will race for Performance Racing in the 2007 British Formula Three International Series.

The son of one of the Middle East's most illustrious rally drivers, Ahmed Al Fardan, Hamad inherited his father's sporting prowess and put it to good use from an early age. Having conquered the world of Karting, the training ground for all budding racing drivers, Hamad completed his first season in single-seater racing at just 16 years of age, racing in the 2004 Formula BMW Asia series. Competing with team Belgravia, Hamad finished an impressive third in the Rookie Championship.

In 2005 Hamad joined championship winning team Meritus for a full-scale assault on the Formula BMW Asia title as the second youngest driver in the championship. Hamad finished the season in third place notching up four wins, two pole positions and seven podiums, then moved on in 2006 to New Zealand to compete in the Toyota Racing Series with Meritus.

Europe, the traditional heartland of motor sport, is now Hamad's target as he gets to grips with British Formula 3. Although Hamad is aware a steep learning curve awaits him on circuits that he has never experienced, he is relishing the challenge: 'I am really looking forward to this season. I am happy to finally reach UK motor sport. I am looking at British Formula 3 as a two-year plan.

'It's a pleasure to race with all these experienced drivers that I can learn from and to measure my skills against. I think we can have a strong start with all the support from the team, Performance Racing, and from my dad and the sponsor and Bahrain. I think we are not very far from the European drivers as I did the same mileage.

'The support from Bahrain and my sponsor has been really good and they believe in me. I hope to represent Bahrain very well.'

Back in February this year Hamad had his first official test at Pembrey with his new British F3 team. The bleak midwinter in Wales is a long way from the year-round sunshine in his homeland, the 'land of golden smiles', but Hamad nonetheless finished the morning season second quickest in his class. Hamad has just two more tests before the season kicks off at Oulton Park on April 7th when all of Bahrain will be watching.

The Kingdom of Bahrain, which has become known as the 'Home of Motorsport in the Middle East' since bringing Formula One to the region in 2004, is nurturing racing talent from across the region and sees Hamad Al Fardan as one of its brightest prospects. In December 2006 the Kingdom played host to its first international endurance race, the 24 Hours of Bahrain, with a huge entry from some of the top names in long-distance racing such as Franz Konrad and Diester Quester among the front-runners -- but the headlines were all made by the performance of the all-Bahraini Porsche GT3 with Hamad Al Fardan in the four-strong driving squad.

The team, which put Hamad together with Fahad Al Musalam, Shaikh Salman bin Rashid Al Khalifa and Shaikh Salman bin Isa Al Khalifa, was right on the pace of the very fastest cars in the race despite being in a smaller class and struggling with tyre wear problems for much of the race. Despite these setbacks Hamad led the charge to sixth overall and a comprehensive class victory.

"It is a truly exciting time for Bahrain to see Hamad prepare for British F3, with the reputation that the series has for developing drivers in readiness for the upper echelons of the sport," said Shaikh Salman bin Isa Al Khalifa, who is Director of PR and Governmental Affairs at the Bahrain International Circuit as well as an accomplished racer. "He is talented and dedicated, and has all the attributes he needs to succeed."

-credit: hafr