Emirati karting ace Saeed Al Mehairi bagged another win on Monday night (13 March) in the Sodi World Series (SWS) competition, picking up his second Senior Cup win in a row while Kelly Fergal topped Masters and Junior Cup driver Kyle Kumaran reached the top step of the podium for the first time.
Al Mehairi has been a dominant force in 2017, racking up an Endurance Championship first place trophy with team Batelco Racing Drag965, a pair of solo SWS Senior Cup trophies, and he will compete in the SWS World Finals in Paris in May.
It was Romaldo Labrooy who owned the pace early on during qualifying, beating Al Mehairi to pole by a mere 0.059 seconds, setting a benchmark lap time of 1:11.367. The next eleven drivers set times less than a second off the top mark.
Thirty-one Senior Cup karts lined up for Race One, and six of those made a swift getaway at the start to separate from the pack and battle it out for the lead. Al Mehairi jostled his way to the front of the breakaway group and held on for the win, crossing the line just 0.594 ahead of Abigail Birch, who was shadowed by Anjum Shaikh in third.
A similar struggle developed in Race Two, with seven racers jumping out in front with the lead kart changing from lap to lap. Ahmed Al Hammadi, Abigail Birch and Romaldo Labrooy were all contenders for the win, but it was the steady and swift driving of Saeed Al Mehairi that prevailed in the end.He took the chequered flag by 0.231 seconds over Labrooy, with Al Hammadi behind to claim third.
When the final points of the two races were calculated, Al Mehairi was the clear Senior Cup victor with 80 points. Birch took home second place silverware on a total of 67 and Labrooy secured third place with 65.
Impressed with the determination of his rivals, Al Mehairi said: “Everyone on the podium today really deserved it because we were fighting the whole time from the beginning of the race until the end.”
In the Masters category, for SWS Senior drivers 35 years or older, Kelly Fergal improved on his third place finish in the last round, claiming the top step of the podium. Damian Hehir had to settle for another second place finish, while newcomer Sam Badawi secured an impressive third.
Zaid Haddad was the SWS Junior Cup frontrunner early on, topping the qualifying screens with a best lap time of 1:20.377, edging out Kyle Kumaran by 0.227 seconds to secure pole position.
After the lights went out in Race One, Haddad was forced to drop back as six drivers struggled for the lead. Alexander Renner fought his way up front and hung on for victory, crossing the line 3.509 seconds ahead of Kumaran, who maintained his second place grid position. Haddad trailed in for third.
In the next race three Kumaran, along with the Al Azhari brothers—Enzo, Keanu and Adam—all got in the mix for the frontrunner spot. The scrapping was close all of the way into the final lap, where Enzo managed to take the win by just 0.849 seconds over Kumaran. Keanu Al Azhari was right behind to take third place.
Unable to nab a race win on the night, Kyle Kumaran was still able to earn the overall SWS Junior Cup victory with a total of 72 points due to his consistent second place results. Alexander Renner finished within striking distance on 69 points and Enzo Al Azhari took home the third place trophy with 67 points.
After bagging his maiden SWS Junior Cup win Kumaran said: “I finished second in both races, so this is surprising. It’s not easy. You have to practice a lot and these people are really good.”
The next SWS Sprint Series Race Night will take place at Dubai Kartdrome on Monday, 27 March 2017.