Joe Ghanem burst onto the scene at the start of the 2010/2011 UAE racing season as a breath of fresh air. Young, committed and surrounded by a dedicated team aimed at maximising the young Lebanese driver’s talent on the local scene.
A stranger to GT racing ‘the kid’ – he had just turned 21 at the time – thrust himself into the deep end when he opted to campaign A GulfSport prepared Ginetta G50-HC to contest the Cytech UAE GT Championship in the GTC Class which boasted the biggest field in the UAE’s premier road racing series, including some of the toughest and most experienced competitors. He arrived on the scene an unknown quantity – but left several months later a star and a champion.
This was no surprise as from the outset Ghanem was taking his campaign very seriously indeed and had terrific backing from: Al Buhaira National Insurance Company, Max, Orient Travel, Orient Irrigation, Orient Financial Brokers, London Dairy, G4S, Orient Transport and Orient Tours.
For sure this arsenal of sponsors was the upside for his debut season, but it came with the inevitable pressure of expectations and the need to deliver.
But it was no coincidence that he managed to attract a fair number of sponsors as he has shown promise since he started karting in his preteens.
Ghanem recalls: “I competed in one season of karting in Lebanon and won the Lebanese Junior Karting Championship at the age of 14 in 2004. In 2006 I finished 3rd in the Middle East Thunder Arabia Series (Zip Formula 1.6), collecting six podiums, four fastest laps and one pole position. I was invited that same year to test for the Red Bull Junior Team in Portugal making me the first driver from the Middle East to get an invite.”