Talk about an impressive debut! Oryx Racing have gone and done something that none of us expected and jumped on a plane to take on the worlds best of GT/Endurance Racing in the American Le Mans Series.
Humaid Al Masaood, Steven Kane, Tom Maplethorpe and the rest of the Oryx Racing crack team, stood proud at Lime Rock this weekend, as they claimed an impressive podium finish in their debut at the prestigious ALMS race at Lime Rock Park.
Oryx’s U.S. adventure started in dramatic fashion however. Despite having qualified in a tremendous second place on the grid, a battery problem on race day meant that the car was forced to start from the pit lane.
Undaunted however, Humaid proceeded to bang in 58 laps behind the wheel (for those that watched on-line, they did look rather exciting on occassion) taking the car from thirty-first and stone last to seventh place on the road. Battling and occasionally dodging his way through a very tight field on the 2.4 kilometre circuit – the shortest one in this year’s ALMS.
Experienced British racer Kane (a previous Autosport Young Driver award winner none the less) then hopped in to complete the race, steering the team’s No. 20 Mazda Lola Coupé, to third overall. Al Masaood and Kane also recorded the second fastest lap time of the race, just a tenth of a second slower than eventual winners, and Dyson Racing teammates, Chris Dyson and Guy Smith.
“Everything about the race felt really good, and I am very happy to have finished well,” said Al Masaood. “Our goal was to come here and do a good job and we have done exactly that. Despite the very different conditions we experience at home, the lessons learnt at the 24H Dubai about racing in a tightly packed field really stood me in good stead here – to overtake 24 cars in under 60 laps was a great achievement.”
Al Masaood’s participation at the Lime Rock Park circuit in Connecticut was an historic moment for Middle East motorsport. Competing against some of the world’s top sportscar drivers, he became the first Emirati to take part in top-flight international sportscar racing.
There is most definitely a strong movement of Motorsport talent bubbling up through the grass roots scene that has been slowing growing over the past few years.
“This strong result demonstrates that it is possible for Arabic racing drivers to successfully compete at the highest global levels,” said Al Masaood after the race. “The UAE boasts some of the best racing facilities in the world, and it is great to be able to represent the country in one of the world’s top sports car racing series.”
Al Masaood and Kane will contest the remaining six rounds of this year’s ALMS in their Mazda Lola Coupé and all being well www.crankandpiston.com will be there along for the journey!