The chequered flag has only just dropped on the 2012/2013 Formula Gulf 1000 season, but its drivers are already preparing themselves for a long year ahead.
GulfSport Trophy winner Natasha Seatter for instance is set to take on the best the Porsche Carrera Cup Asia has to offer, while Rahul Raj Mayer heads UK-wards for the inaugural season of BRDC Formula 4. Weiron Tan meanwhile sets sail for Formula Renault 2.0 in the UK where, interesting, he will go head-to-head with last year’s Formula Gulf 1000 Champion Joe Ghanem.
One way or another – be it an international motorsport campaign or a year of studies at university – each driver has taken something away from a season of Middle East single seater racing, as each explained to crankandpiston.
#72 – Rahul Raj Mayer (MAL)
“I managed to win by two or three seconds”
“It’s been a really good weekend. Race one was great. I pushed hard, and came in first. For race two the pace was not there and the tyres were not there, but I pushed as hard as I could and still came home third, which I’m really happy with, considering. I’m very satisfied with my season, apart from a few accidents every now and then, but overall I feel my first year has gone really well.
“I’d say my first race win is probably my highlight of the year, since I managed to win by two or three seconds. That’s was really cool. I’ve learnt a lot this season, in particular how to handle a single seater, and how to push it to its limits. How to feel the car, feel the way it handles through the corners, and what I need to do when I start testing.
“I’m really looking forward to my first season in BRDC Formula 4. I will be looking to do my best once again, you can be sure of that.”
#3 – Natasha Seatter (MAL)
“Winning seven races was alright”
“This weekend I think went really well. It was pretty tough, but I kept on going and I managed to finish second. For the first eight laps or so I wasn’t really looking, and then I noticed my laptimes were coming down, and I got into my rhythm after that. It was a clean race though, and that was the main thing.
“I’ve only had three or four poor races and winning seven races was alright. The first time I won at the Dubai Autodrome was a big shock for me. I pushed really, really hard for that with training, and was determined not to give up. I was really proud of that result. This season has certainly been better than last year, but I think there is still room for improvement. And in Formula Gulf you’re learning every time you go out on-track.
“I think for this year’s Asia Carrera Cup, it’s generally about fitness. With the Formula Gulf cars you’re going at about 215kph, which is about the same pace as the Porsche GT3. But it’s a very different style of driving. I have a week and a half before I have to go to Shanghai though, so it’s all about the gym, gym, gym!
“I think it’s important to not be afraid to try something new.”
#12 – Saeed Bintouq (UAE)
“From mid-season onwards, my confidence was boosted”
“I came into this race just looking for solid points to secure second place in the championship, so I’m pretty happy. I think the national circuit is quite impressive to drive on. It’s tricky though, because the tyres wear out so quickly.
“It’s my first year in single seaters, and I just wanted to get more comfortable in the car. I think from mid-season testing, my confidence was boosted. Since then I’ve taken four podium finishes and seen a brighter side of the championship, so I’m looking forward to another year and another season. Yas Marina was my hardest race, but I got a win in the first race and secured a podium in the second. It was definitely my top weekend!
“At the moment I’m trying to chase other seats elsewhere. I’ve had a look into the Scirocco Cup in China and Malaysia. There’s upwards of 30-car grids and they’re very competitive. It would be great to represent Dubai and the Yas Marina Circuit at an international level. But I would love to do Formula Gulf again.”