Christoffe Hissette reminds one of German Formula 1 world champion, Michael Schumacher. Though Schumacher is average height, and Christoffe very tall and lean, they share the same chiselled look around the jaw and cheek-bones. Christoffe's sunken eyes also have that same disarming ice-blue colour and a shock of cropped ash-blonde hair adds to the resemblance.
The fact that Schumacher is living the dream of Formula 1 racing and Christoffe is working towards that goal (he's the reigning UAE International Class go-kart champion for three years running) - only brings the two drivers closer together.
There are some things, however, that are unmistakably just Christoffe, who at 20 has other important aspects of his life to attend to. Such as hanging out with friends - this interview was done at one of their houses where they were packing for a camping trip in the desert. Or to look incredibly cool and hip. Which could be one explanation for that silver stud piercing through his right eyebrow.
There's a term in go-kart driving called picking your line. Where you watch up ahead on the race track deciding well in advance where you want your kart to go - along the shortest, fastest possible route. Click here for tips on Go- Karting
He may not have realised it then, but when Christoffe's dad gave him a kart for his 11th birthday - he was not getting one more video game! - the next nine years of his young life would be all about perfecting that line, and every other technique there is, to kart racing. Click here for Go-Kart tracks in Dubai
Christoffe has been the continuous reigning UAE champion in the International Class since 1997. And prior to that, racing in the National class, he was on the podium for four years running from '93 to '96, winning the National Championship when he was just 15.
But as in any sport, winning comes at a price. Of course, there are the positives. Christoffe was invited with his Middle East Championship winning, BMW-team, to race at the 24-hour pro-kart race in Le Mans where they made 3rd position, just 3 laps down on the leaders. Then there was an invitation to test, again at Le Mans, at Le Filiere, a racing specific training school, putting Christoffe into Formula Campus cars. 'After each session, there would be a debrief and the training really helped me especially with corners, and driving cars generally. It was a good experience.'
Other doors of opportunity Christoffe's driving have opened include a trip to Bahrain for a 12-hour race, and a day of desert driving there, with Finnish Formula 1 driver, Mika Salo.
And aren't the girls just throwing themselves at him, because he's such a good-looking champion? His friends, who have stopped packing for a while, and are lounging on the chairs beside us, burst into laughter. All Christoffe can do is manage an embarrassed and jokingly, 'I wouldn't mind it.' So far his local fame has prompted kids to come up to him at racing events and ask the speed demon for autographs, which genuinely does surprise him.
But while attracting positive attention, winning can have its down side too. And the single thing Christoffe has learnt to dislike most about racing is the jealousy. "No one likes a winner," a friend of Christoffe's offers the statement of fact, though he and the others clearly admire Christoffe for his achievements. Christoffe doesn't like to dwell on the subject but there's a lingering bitterness for the way people have treated him because of his success.
But, hey, at the end of the day, if you're talented enough to be racing in the Sultanate of Oman, Bahrain, Belgium, France and Austria, and you've got a list of wins as long as your arm and a bright future in racing, then who cares what people say.
Courtesy: Young and Tendy
Tips on Go-Karting
- Always drive fair.
- Always respect flags and signals. A Blue Flag means a faster driver is near. Look for a place to let him pass safely. A Yellow flag means danger and that you should slow down; watch carefully. A Red Flag indicates that you should slow down and stop on the circuit. A Green Flag signals everything is clear. A Black Flag means that you should return to pit lane and finally a
Checkered Flag signals that you should finish.
- Always be observant.
- Always note your speed and study the driving behaviour of other drivers.
- Make sure that your kart has safety bumper, seat belt and roll bar. A race suit protects against dirt, the helmet protects against injuries and noise. Gloves are also very useful.
- Study the circuit and its bends.
- Don't skid. Skidding or gliding means friction; friction means less speed;less speed means bad laptimes.
- The best driving position is the 10 to 2 o'clock at the steering wheel.
- Remember, practice makes perfect.
Go-Kart Clubs in Dubai
Dubai Kart Club - Located at the Jebel Ali Track, 20 minutes from Dubai, this club is popular among go karting enthusiasts. Race days are held every Friday from September to April. The UAE championships rounds are held here. For further details, call 3497393.
Formula One Kart Club - On the Sheikh Zayed Road, it is an indoor go-karting track and suitable for individual practice sessions or lessons for older children. For further details, call 3388828.