The future of motor racing in the Maldives: The Piston Cup Challenge

Additional reporting by Leah R Malone

Amateur and professional racers took to the streets of Hulhumale’ this weekend to compete in the Maldives’ first official motorsport competition.

The Piston Cup 2013 racing challenge, organised by both Maldives Motor Racing Association (MMRA) and Piston Group, marked the beginning of what competition organisers are hoping to be a future of sponsored motorsport racing in the Maldives.

Over 100 drivers and motorcyclists competed in the Piston Cup 2013 racing challenge, which attracted over 4000 spectators to the two-day event.

Piston Group Director Mohamed Mauroof told Minivan News that events like the Piston Cup take street racers out of Male’ and puts them in a professional and disciplined environment where they can hone their talents.

“We are trying very hard to encourage motor racing in the Maldives. At first, the public were not very supportive of us as we used to be racing on the streets. However, now they are supporting us because we are doing it in a controlled environment.

“This is the start and it will be better from here on in. We are planning to host another race event in June this year and one next year too,” Mauroof added.

The aim of the Piston Cup was not only to increase interest in motor sport, but to set a benchmark for future events with the festival-style atmosphere that included fire dancing, Maldivian rock bands, boduberu (traditional singing and drumming) and fireworks.

Former street racer Ahmed ‘Dada’ Aiman Abaas, who won twice driving for team Rannamarianes, said that organised racing events are the best way to tackle street racing in Male’.

“I started illegal racing when I was 18, but when the government gave us permission to race in Hulhumale’ it all changed. These events give us a chance to race the right way.

“Illegal street racing has stopped now. If the government continues to give us the opportunity to race here, everyone will wait for that. I hope to have the opportunity to one day go professional,” Abaas said.

According to the MMRA website, individuals who held a valid licence and are “physically and mentally fit” were able to compete in the event.

Event Organiser Ismail Agleem told Minivan News earlier this month that while anyone who meets the race requirements could enter, motor cyclists will be required to have five days worth of practice and car drivers will need to attend a practice session prior to the race. Any competitor who failed to attend these sessions would be deemed a “non-qualifier”.

Mohamed ‘Afu’ Afsah, who has international racing experience and won four races – jointly for teams B Bros and Rannamarianes – in the motorcycle events at the Piston Cup, spoke of the difficulty aspiring Maldivian motor sport competitors face living on the islands.

“I have only been racing for the last two years, and it has been very difficult to practice because we are riding on an island with soil roads. We desperately need a track.

“I am so grateful for events like this, because now we have the chance to practice every week. I really appreciate it,” Afsah added.

High speed concern

With the speed limit in Male’ limited to 30km/h for cars and 25km/h for motorcycles, the Maldives Police Service had previously raised concerns over inexperienced racers driving at high speeds during the event.

Asked whether there was a risk that the competitors – some of whom who may have only driven in the speed controlled zones of Male’ – risked an accident, event organiser Ismail told Minivan News prior to the race there had been “no serious accidents” in previous events.

During the weekend races, Piston Group Director Mauroof said that there had been only one major incident during the event.

“For some of the car drivers this is their first event, and the track is not very big for car racing. That was the reason for the accident.

“We have had no other major accidents where the fire and medic teams had to attend. The driver [who crashed] is fine. However his car is not,” Mauroof said.

MNDF involvement

Defence Minister Mohamed Nazim said that the MNDF assisted with the event to promote partnership with Maldivian youth.

“We worked with the youth because they came and met me a few days ago and requested me to organise this. It’s good that we meet with youth, so I took initiative.

“I have enjoyed it, the youth have enjoyed, the racing teams have enjoyed it too, it is a very good event, I’ll always be a partner for the youth, and if they request again, I’ll be happy to host it,” he added.


Motor racing comes to the Maldives: Piston Motor Racing Challenge 2013

An “official” street racing event open to drivers and motorcyclists in the Maldives is to take place in Hulhumale’ later this month as part of the Maldives Motor Racing Association’s (MMRA) ‘Piston Motor Racing Challenge 2013’.

The event will give individuals the chance to experience racing with “no speed limits”, as long as they meet race requirements and have access to a vehicle, Piston Motor Racing Challenge Event Organiser Ismail Agleem told Minivan News today.

According to the event’s Facebook page, the race is the only motor racing challenge in the Maldives and is being undertaken in association with the Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) and MMRA.

“We have a special area in the industrial ground of Hulhumale’ which will be closed off for the riders and drivers to race in. It is going to set the benchmark for motor sport racing in the Maldives”, Agleem said.

“We want to encourage motor sport racing in the Maldives and eventually build an official track to encourage sports tourists into the country. It is an ideal location to attract people interested in motor racing,” he added.

According to the MMRA website, individuals who hold a valid licence and are “physically and mentally fit” will be eligible to take part in the race.

Agleem said that while anyone who meets the race requirements can enter, motor cyclists will be required to have five days worth of practice and car drivers will need to attend a practice session. Any competitor who fails to attend these sessions will be deemed a “non-qualifier”.

The MMRA website states that competitors in the junior events should also attach a “no objection” letter from a parent or guardian when submitting entry forms.

Asked whether there was a risk that the competitors – some of whom who may have only driven in the speed controlled zones of Male’ – risked an accident, Ismail said there had been “no serious accidents” in previous events, and that drivers are given plenty of time to practice.

Speed limits in Male, according to Transport Authority Chairman Abdul Rasheed Nafiz, are less than 30km/h, whereas for motorcycles the speed limit is just over 25km/h.

Police Spokesman Hassan Haneef today said that the Maldives Police Service (MPS) would be meeting with event organisers tomorrow to discuss matters regarding the race.

“Clearly driving [at speed] is an issue and that is our concern. We will be meeting with the event organisers tomorrow to discuss how we can work together,” Haneef told Minivan News.

Agleem said that roughly 95 vehicles will take part in the event, spread out across a 14 different races based on engine size and vehicle type.

According to Agleem, while the event is the fifth of its kind, it is the first time the MNDF have been involved and MMRA have worked together with Piston.

MNDF spokesman Colonel Abdul Raheem confirmed to Minivan News that the MNDF are involved in the event helping with “security and the preparation of the event.”

Raheem further stated that the MNDF will be providing medical services and an ambulance should it be needed.

Responsible driving

The MMRA website claims the event will “provide a safe environment for racers to come out and show their talent” while also directly helping “to reduce traffic violations” in regard to speeding and dangerous driving.

MMRA members are not allowed to perform stunts without permission of “concerned authorities” and is fully against illegal street racing, the website states.

According to the MMRA website, the association was legally registered in 2009 and has organised many events, rider development programs and fundraisers in the past years.

The Piston Motor Racing Challenge Facebook page also states that organisers will be working together with local law enforcement agencies to ensure public road safety.

Starting on January 18, the event will be officially launched at Raalhugandu in Male, followed by a car and bike procession through the main streets of Male’.

Qualifying rounds for the race will take place in Hulhumale on January 25, and the actual race will take place on January 26, according to the MMRA website.

Between the race days, the Facebook page states there there will be raves, drag races, DJs and live music as well as stunt shows and fireworks.

“We have invited all cabinet and parliament members to come along to the races too,” added Agleem.

Race day events

There will be a total of ten motorcycle races and four car race events as follows:

Motorcyle events:

  • Mio, Airblade, PCX open event
  • 125 modified
  • 135 modified
  • 125 to 135 open
  • 125 to 200 manual open
  • 400 to 750 modified
  • 600 to 1000 modified
  • 400 to 1000 open event
  • Exhibit event
  • Ladies scooter event

Car race events:

  • 1000 to 1600 modified
  • 1600 to 2000 modified
  • Up to 3000 and  above open event
  • RX8 event

Race entries are now closed. Photographs by ‘rushhphotos’.