The penultimate round of the UAE National racing calendar for 2011, happened this past weekend and sadly it was a rather quiet affair. It’s seemingly been a while since we’ve seen the burgeoning grids of the last couple of years and we for one would like to get a bit more info on what is happening. Is the state of the economy? Is it that there are just too many championships for the racers available?
Or is it something else? Either way, the Dubai Autodrome hosted the usual varied menu of races, including: round four of the Motorcity UAE Sportbikes, round three of the NGK UAE GT Championship, round three of the Formula Gulf 1000 and the season opening race for the Suzuki Swift Cup.
The AUH Motorsport prepared Ferrari 458 Italia shared by Leon Price and Rob Barff romped to another dominant victory in the GTA class, making it three out of three in this season’s NGK UAE GT Championship. From pole the team led all 38 laps on the National Circuit configuration of Dubai Autodrome and crossed the line with a winning margin of 39.105 seconds.
Chasing hard were Frederic Fatien and Fabien Giroix in the Gulf First Lamborghini LP560, who finished second and although had no answer for the Ferrari, the team have made a huge improvement and appeared to close the gap on the pace setters.
Content with his performance after the race was Price who said, “Fantastic race for us, I really felt comfortable. I was not particularly fond of the circuit configuration we were racing on, but Rob [Barff] told me to get on with it and I must be honest and say that I found a good rhythm and consistency which was really very satisfying. I felt on the pace and at the end could even slow down a little. As usual Rob [Barff] handed me a good car in a strong position. A very good day.”
Barff, who again orchestrated the win with his first stint in the cockpit, commented, “Three out of three is great result. The Ferrari was once again was fantastic and I was able to keep a good pace ahead of the Lamborghini’s who were a lot closer to us than before. With an eye to the Dunlop 24 Hours early next year, we feel we have a great team, the crew is working well and our driver line-up strong.”
John Iossifidis and Martin Baerschmidt scored their first victory of the season in the Gulf First prepared Aston Martin. Both delighted with their day. Baerschmidt reflected afterwards, “A good afternoon for us and realy great to take our first win.
Conditions were superb and the Aston Martin did not miss a beat. Thanks to the Gulf First guys who built us a great car.”
Iossifidis added, “Fantastic day and brilliant to take our first win of the season. The car was fantastic and my team mate Martin did a good job in the first stint. Really a good day for us and we look forward to the next round at Yas Marina where we are looking forward to battling more cars.”
The Cytech Drive of the Day went to the Pairing of Ray Bignell and Graeme Hannah who finished the first race of their season in fifth at the wheel of their Emal Porsche.
Bignell was clearly emotional when receiving the award, saying, “Really what a great day for us. It has been a hard journey with disappointments, but today receiving this Cytech award makes it all worthwhile. I thank our families and Emal where we work for their support – without them we would not be here.”
Motorcity UAE Sportbikes: Double wins for Al Shaiba, Tannir and Raja
Nasser Al Shaiba, riding BMW S1000RR, took two wins in the Motorcity UAE Sportbikes races on the day in the 1000 Class. His main rival Gernot Dobida, was forced to have early shower when he retired out of the lead in the first race, with mechanical issues and was unable to make it onto the grid for the second race.
Al Shaiba summed up his day, “I am very happy with these two wins, everything went according to plan even though we did have a few problems. But in the end we won and that was the goal. I would like to thank the Dubai Autodrome for putting on this event and also my BMW team and support, including Sandstorm who help me setup my bike.”
In the 600 Class Mahmoud Tannir, on his Triumph Daytona 675, took did his championship ambitions the world of good taking his win tally to six out of eight. His main rival, team mate Alan Boyter, had fuel feed problems in the first race which forced him out on the warm-up lap. Boyter bounced back to take second in place in race two. Steve Blackney, on his Honda CBR600RR, was second in the first race and third in the final race. Erikas Savickas finished third in race one aboard hisYamaha YZF R6.
Tannir said, “My team mate Alan [Boyter] had problems in the first race which is a shame because he is capable of giving me a good run. I am glad he bounced back in the second race. For me two wins is great. I cannot ease off in future races as there are still many races ahead and anything can happen. It felt good racing with the 1000 Class. So all in all a good day.”
Sporting the biggest smile in the paddock at the end of the day was Surya Raja who took his first victory ever in the 600 Rookie Class in race one and followed that up with another win in race two riding a Yamaha YZF R6. His wins bringing to an end the six win streak by fellow rookie Chris Morley who had technical problems in the first race but managed to bounce back to finish second in the final race.
Raja said, “I am really pleased with these wins, my first in my short career as I have only been riding motorcycles seriously for the past eight months and started racing this past October. So winning now is great, as when I started I was fourth, then third, then second and now first. It feels good and I have been told it is addictive, but I know it takes hard work.”
Support race: Formula Gulf 1000
Zaamin Jaffer and Joe Ghanem took a win apiece in the Formula Gulf 1000 races, with Jaffer winning race one from Ghanem and in race two Ghanem reversing the roles.
Mohammed Al Mutawaa was third over the line in both races, but in race two he was penalised after a coming together with Natasha Seatter on the final lap, which promoted Seatter to third.
The next UAE National Race Day takes place at Yas Marina Circuit on 15-16 December, featuring rounds for the NGK UAE GT Championship, the Total UAE Touring Car Championship and Formula Gulf 1000. Let’s hope those cars that are hidden away in workshops and peoples garages come out to play (yes we can’t hide from this ourselves).
It is quite sad to see such empty grids and getting an understanding what is going on is something we’d like to get to the bottom of. The hardwork the Dubai Autodrome has put in over these past few years shouldn’t be allowed to fall by the wayside, even if someone else comes in to manage, promote and run the racing series >>>
Killer work care of c&p lens man Pete West