Rahul Mayer and Weiron Tan share the Formula Gulf 1000 spoils in the season finale at the Dubai Autodrome as a new champion is crowned.
A runaway win by series newboy Weiron Tan – coupled with degrading tyres that left all the drivers on high alert – the 2012/2013 Formula Gulf 1000 season finale was not the knife-edge affair those of us at the Dubai Autodrome had been hoping for.
How very different that was to race one, where despite Tan locking out pole position with a time almost a second faster than his nearest opponent, an appalling start for the Malaysian dropped him to the tail of the field by the end of the first lap. Now almost ten seconds off leader Rahul Mayer, Tan had an awful lot of work to do.
His opening 1m 35s laptime aside, the Malaysian immediately launched back with a succession of fastest laps, clawing back the deficit to sixth-placed Harsh Rajpal as he did so. One lap later, both the Indian and Emirati-driver Haytham Sultan Al Ali had already had fallen behind the charging #22 machine.
Up front, Mayer was on a similar charge, immediately putting two seconds on second-placed Nicholas Canal, the Spaniard having made a superb start to leapfrog the season’s early runaway leader Natasha Seatter. Barely three-tenths of a second covered the pair as they diced for second place across the stripe, though #3 machine managed to squeeze through shortly after.
Saeed Bintouq, already up from sixth on the grid, was soon fending off the charging Tan. Following on from his third and fourth podium position finishes of the year in round six, the Yas Marina-run Emirati quickly went green two laps in succession as his laptimes continued to drop. There was little he could do to stop Tan though (who, also in crankandpiston’s absence at round six, had secured a dominant double victory), who dropped into the 1m 23’s around the Autodrome’s National Circuit on his way into fourth place.
Having fallen back from the leaders, Canal was next up. Solid running throughout the season had left the Spaniard within inches of victory on several occasions, though he would end his first ever full championship season just off the podium in both races. A hard fought affair between the Spaniard and Tan did at least slow the Malaysian’s progress, the gap stagnating for three consecutive laps at the four-tenths mark as the field took the white flag. One tour left.
Up front, the battle for victory seemed to have petered out. Mayer – who, after an early dice with Seatter and a consistent drive on used tyres, would go onto to take third place in race two – had finally managed to fend off Seatter’s late-race charge, slamming home a succession of personal best laps. This despite his Malaysian country(wo)man setting the fastest lap of the race with just two laps to run.
The deficit had crawled beneath the one second mark as the white flag flew, but Seatter, aware that any mistakes this close to the end of the season would be costly to her place in the standings, would not get any closer. A well-deserved win for Mayer and a solid second place for Seatter, which she would repeat in race two.