Dubai, UAE; 31st May 2023: The region’s first home-grown motorsports reality TV show, the Al-Futtaim Toyota Motorsport Academy had its thrilling grand finale streamed to millions of motorsports enthusiasts across the Middle East on Shahid, the region’s leading Arabic streaming platform.
Dubai-based Branden Hancock was crowned as the winner and the Al-Futtaim Toyota Gazoo Racing Off-Road Ambassador for 2023, after edging out fellow finalists Nour Dawood (second place), Aksana Yordanov (third place), and Nicolas Gondard (fourth place).
Branden Hancock, a 35-year-old sales professional from South Africa, takes home the coveted title
As the grand winner, Branden will enjoy a range of stunning benefits that include taking the keys to the mighty Toyota Land Cruiser 300 GR Sport for a year, participating with the Al-Futtaim Toyota Gazoo Racing Team at the 2023 FIA World Rally-Raid Championship (W2RC) Final in Morocco in October, and taking part in Al-Futtaim Toyota’s exciting automotive activities and launches throughout the year.
Commenting on the occasion, Jacques Brent, Managing Director, Al-Futtaim Toyota & Lexus, said: “After a season of intense competition and thrilling off-road action, we are excited to announce the winner of the inaugural edition of the Al-Futtaim Toyota Motorsport Academy. On behalf of the entire Al-Futtaim Toyota team, I offer the warmest congratulations to Branden Hancock for his outstanding achievement and our heartiest compliments to the finalists, as well as the legion of motorsport enthusiasts who qualified – you are all champions to us.”
Al-Futtaim Toyota Motorsport Academy
A total of 1,200 automotive enthusiasts had applied for the first edition of the Toyota Motorsport Academy, an initiative from Al-Futtaim Toyota that brought the UAE’s automotive and off-roading communities together. The academy selected 150 applicants for the first-of-its-kind driver development programme designed to enhance sporting skills.
Commenting on his win, Branden said: “Being named the Al-Futtaim Toyota Gazoo Racing Off-Road Ambassador 2023 after a very competitive time at the Toyota Motorsport Academy feels like an unreal moment for me – it is a dream come true. From meeting the Al-Futtaim Toyota Gazoo Racing team at the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge to winning the first edition of the Academy, it has been an exciting journey, and I thank Al-Futtaim Toyota for making this possible. As this year’s ambassador, I am very excited to see what the future brings and look forward to an intense calendar of events.”
Toyota Motorsports Pedigree
The launch of the UAE’s first Al-Futtaim Toyota Motorsport Academy is a milestone achievement in the nation’s motorsport history. It showcases Al-Futtaim Toyota’s continued investment in developing the motorsport community around the region, and reinforces the brand’s motorsport heritage spanning five decades of successful participation in the World Rally Championship, Formula One, FIA Cross Country World Cup and the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
Al-Futtaim Toyota Motorsport was also lauded for its outstanding commitment to developing motorsport in the MENA region by winning the ‘Best Innovative Sports Brand’ award at the 10th annual Sports Industry Awards 2023. Al-Futtaim Toyota has been at the forefront of the sport as the sponsors of the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge and the renowned off-road race Dubai Baja.