The penultimate round of Yas Racing Series, which was held at Yas Marina Circuit this weekend, got off to a roaring start with not one but four Championship races taking place including the TRD 86 Cup and the final of the inaugural Formula 4 UAE Championship.
Friday saw fan favourite, the single-make TRD 86 Cup, return to the track, supported once again by Toyota Racing Development (TRD).
Spectators were not disappointed as the first race was a non-stop battle for supremacy consisting of bumper-to-bumper dicing and intense overtaking action. In a tremendous scrap, the drivers pushed their racing machines to their limits and the lead spot changed hands numerous times in a nail-biting race.
Two-time reigning champion, Karin Al Azhari, showed that experience was key and snatched the victory with a time of 20 minutes and 49.952 seconds. Following just a second behind Al Azhari was Shihab Al Fahim (20.50.927) with Magh following in third, crossing the line in 21.04.245.
Race 2 again saw Al Azhari triumphant with a first-place, finishing 17 laps in 20.55.909. Al Fahim finished in second with a time of 21.01.326 and Magh finished comfortably in third with a time of 21.08.541.
The final round of the F4UAE Championship powers by Abarth saw South African racer Jonathan Aberdein from Team Motopark claim the overall title. Dubai-based Sean Babington finished third in the championship for Energy Dubai F4 racing Team and was voted winner of the inaugural F4UAE Sportsmanship Award as well.
Team Motopark from Germany claimed Teams Champion honours, the QMMF F4 Team won the GCC Nations Cup Trophy for best GCC team, while their lead driver Ahmad Al Muhannadi won the Best Performing GCC driver award.
In the Radical Middle East Cup Jani Hjerppe finished 43 laps in 46.00.040 which secured him first place in Race 1. Crossing the line in second,15 second later, was Sergey Shalunov (46.15.233) followed by Lukashevich-Makarovskiy (46.15.760) in third. Race 2 saw an electrifying battle for first place between Sergey Shalunov and Lukashevich-Makarovskiy.
After 37 laps of the track Sergey Shalunov secured first place with a time of 45.10.036, crossing the line just 1 second ahead of his competition, meaning Lukashevich-Makarovskiy (45.11.862) had to settle for second and Dumitrascu- Smith (45.14.531) in third.
In the Formula Gulf 1000, Race 1 saw Omar Gazzaz take top spot with Alex Karkosik in second.
The fourth and final round of Yas Racing Series will take place in April 2017 and tickets can be purchased for as little as AED 25.
Nasser Al Attiyah produced a convincing victory in the inaugural Dubai International Baja powered by AW Rostamani and Nissan on Saturday as Dubai-based South African rider Mark Ackerman produced a brilliant surge on the last leg to clinch the bikes crown.
Qatar’s reigning FIA World Cup champion Al-Attiyah, partnered by French co-driver Mathieu Baumel in a Toyota Hilux, extended his overnight lead to win by 14 mins 57 secs from the UAE’s Sheikh Khalid Al Qassimi and Khalid Al Kendi who finished a clear second in their Abu Dhabi Racing Peugeot 2008 DKR.
With the event also forming the opening round of the FIM Bajas World Cup Ackerman, riding a Husqvarna, wiped out a 1 min 28 secs overnight held by Benjamin Melot on a KTM to win the stage and take the bikes title by 29 seconds from the Frenchman.
With the UAE’s new World Cup event producing more spectacular action as the Nissan Stage 3 unfolded among the dramatic dunes and plains of the Al Qudra desert, top Emirati rider Mohammed Al Balooshi climbed one place to finish third.
Dubai-based Ed Jones has signalled his intent in the build-up to his maiden Verizon IndyCar Series campaign, by outpacing some of the championship’s biggest-hitters during the first official pre-season test at Phoenix Raceway.
As part of his preparation, the 22-year-old travelled to the 1.022-mile Arizona oval for three days of running behind the wheel of his Honda-powered single-seater.
As the series’ only full-time rookie, the first of those days saw Jones enjoy almost exclusive use of the track, before he was joined by 20 high-calibre rivals for four sessions of daytime and evening action.
The latter in particular was significant, given that the Phoenix Grand Prix on 29 April – the fourth of 17 outings on the 2017 IndyCar schedule – will take place under floodlights.
Working closely with his race-winning engineer Michael Cannon, Jones completed just shy of 300 laps in total, steering clear of trouble as a number of his adversaries came into contact with the circuit walls.
More notably, Jones wrapped up the opening session in ninth position on the time-sheets, behind DCR team-mate Sébastien Bourdais – one of the most successful drivers in US open-wheel history – and ahead of defending title-holder Simon Pagenaud, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Scott Dixon and multiple Indianapolis 500 winner Helio Castroneves.
The former European F3 Open Champion continued to lap competitively throughout the test, and with the curtain-raising Grand Prix of St. Petersburg now less than a month away, he is confident of making his mark when the season gets underway in earnest.
“It was a very positive and productive test, and I think we offered a glimpse of our potential,” said Jones. “The Rookie Day was really useful, as it gave me the opportunity to get to grips with the IndyCar on an oval for the first time and get up-to-speed before everybody else joined the track.
“We covered a lot of laps, and that hard work paid off with the ninth-fastest time the next afternoon. I was actually up in P2 for much of the session and whilst it’s impossible to read anything into it at this stage because you don’t know what programmes or strategies different teams are running, it was very cool – and, I must admit, a little surreal – to see my name on the timing screens ahead of people like Pagenaud, Hunter-Reay, Dixon and Castroneves.
“The focus for me was on getting used to the traffic and following other cars in the dirty air, as well as pit-stop practice, which is not something I’ve had to deal with before.
“I clearly still have some catching up to do, but the key will be to make sure we maximise our final test at Sebring at the end of this month and step it up another level.