This news has just landed into the crankandpiston Loft - Good friend of crankandpiston and local racer, Humaid Al Masaood, will become the first Emirati to take part in top-flight international sportscar racing when he contests the remaining seven rounds of this year’s American Le Mans Series (ALMS).
Al Masaood will team up with former BRDC McLaren Autosport Award winner, Steven Kane to pilot the mighty LMP1 Mazda Lola coupé – Number 20 – run by ALMS Teams points leader, Dyson Racing, in conjunction with Masaood’s Oryx Racing team, formerly known as HMR.
The move elevates Al Masaood, already a widely-recognised racing driver in the Speed Euroseries, to the highest level of any Arabic, circuit-based driver and will pit him against the top sportscar drivers in the world.
The pair will join the ALMS championship at Lime Rock, Connecticut, on July 8/9 before completing the rest of the season, which ends with the famous Petit Le Mans endurance race in October.
“The car will hit 320 km/h and reach 100 km/h in 3.2 seconds, so it’s quite a beast,” said Masaood. “The turbocharged Mazda MZR-R engine delivers over 500 bhp and over 400 lb-ft of torque. But unbelievably, the car runs on the ecologically sound IsoButanol, a bio-fuel, rather than traditional petrol, and uses G-OIL’s fully biodegradable synthetic oil.”
LMP1 cars are regarded as the leaders of sports prototype racing, and are the front running cars in the Intercontinental Le Mans Cup, the European and American Le Mans Series and the legendary Le Mans 24 hour race.
Northern Irishman Kane has previously raced in British Formula Renault, British F3, Spanish F3, the Renault World Series, the Porsche Carrera Cup and British Touring Cars. He is also a development driver for Williams Grand Prix Engineering and previously tested for McLaren F1. He won the prestigious British Racing Drivers Club (BRDC) McLaren Autosport Award in 2001.
Kane said: “The car is fantastic – it’s great to be working with Lola again as I know them from my time in British F3 and that was a good time for me. With Mazda, Dyson Racing and Oryx Racing, we definitely have the right package. The LMP1 is similar in terms of downforce and power to the single-seaters I drove in GP2 testing and World Series, so it really takes me back a few years.
“The hardest thing for Humaid and I will be learning the tracks in America but I don’t think that should be too much of a problem and we’d like to think we could get a podium finish by the end of the year, ahead of a full assault on the championship in 2012.”
Masaood has already run a series of tests in the Mazda Lola coupé at the Monticello Motor Club’s circuit in New York State, where he enjoyed the potent performance of the car. The 4.1-mile circuit has some of the longest straights in North America and 22 corners simulating some of the toughest bends of the historic European circuits. Further testing will take place at Road Atlanta this week.
The team already has sponsorship in place, but is keen to secure further support across the region. With the international exposure offered by racing at this level, the team hopes to increase the presence of Arab drivers and grow motorsport in the Gulf.
Chris Dyson, vice-president and sporting director of Dyson Racing as well as points leader in the ALMS Drivers standings, said: “Humaid got up to speed incredibly quickly despite these cars being quite intimidating to drive. His professional and methodical approach allowed him to master the car quickly and start to work on improving his lap times. His team-mate, Steven Kane, was also very comfortable in the car from the outset and gave extremely good feedback.”