Charles Leclerc passes Alex Albon on final lap to win in F2 finale in Abu Dhabi

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Finishing like a champ: Charles Leclerc.

Charles Leclerc showed just why he is the 2017 Formula 2 champion when he produced a scintillating come-from-behind performance to win the final race of the series at Yas Marina Circuit on Sunday.

Starting the 22-lap sprint seventh on the grid, Leclerc picked his way through the field to claim third place after 14 laps and second after 18.

But it was a thrilling last-lap surge that carried him past race leader Alex Albon and on to his second sprint race victory of the season to add to the five he has taken in the longer feature races.

The two cars had touched through Turns 6 and 7, then Leclerc produced a copy-book move into Turn 8 at the end of Yas Marina’s 1.2-km main straight to take the lead at just the right time.

When feature race podium finishers Ollie Rowland and Antonio Fuoco were both disqualified from those results for technical infringements, Artem Markelov claimed Saturday’s victory.

That decision took some of the sting out of the chase for the teams’ title, which started the weekend with Prema two points clear of Dams with Russian Time just four points further adrift.

In the end Markelov’s Saturday win, then his sixth-place Sunday finish with teammate Luca Ghiotto fifth secured the crown for Russia Time on 395 points to Prema’s 380.

With the top eight from Saturday’s race reversed on the grid for Sunday’s it was it MP Motorsport’s Jordan King who started from pole, but the 23-year-old Englishman was swamped at the start by Alex Albon and Nobuharu Matsushita, with Nicholas Latifi forcing his DAMS entry between those two on the opening lap.

King had a dismal afternoon, dropping down the order, picking up a puncture and eventually retiring as 17 of the 20 cars made it to the finish.

But he had the small consolation of setting fastest race lap of 1:51.315, an average of 179.619, on lap 6.

Elsewhere, Dorian Boccolacci posted his first victory of 2017 in the final GP3 race as Trident Racing completed a 1-2 finish.

With ART Grand Prix’s George Russell already champion, the main focus in the 14-lap sprint race was on who would finish runner-up to the English driver.

With the top eight from Saturday’s feature race in reverse order on the grid, and with ART Grand Prix’s fourth driver Anthoine Hubert penalised five seconds for failing to slow down under the Virtual Safety Car in that race, it was American Ryan Tveter who started from pole for Trident.

But 19-year-old Frenchman Boccolacci was past his team-mate within two laps and stayed ahead of him to win by 5.5 seconds, adding a sprint-race victory to his two Sunday podiums in Catalunya at the start of the year and Jerez last time out.

Third in an eventful race was Daniel Ticktum, who had his #14 DAMS up into second place at one stage but was penalized five seconds for leaving the track and gaining an advantage when he passed Arden’s Steijn Schothorst on lap 8.

Russell survived an early off-track moment to pounce for fourth place when feature race winner Nico Kari of Arden and Schothorst tangled near the finish claim fourth ahead of the fast-finishing Hubert and the recovering Kari.

Hubert finished fourth overall on 123 points to make it a clean sweep for ART Grand Prix, whose final margin of victory in the teams’ standings was a stunning 306 points ahead of Trident.

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Al Zaabi aims to defend UAE crown at Red Bull Car Park Drift National Final

Jay Asser 16/11/2017
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Drifting into Dubai: The Red Bull Car Park Drift National Final returns to the emirate.

An electric atmosphere awaits reigning UAE champion Faisal Al Zaabi and his competition in the National Final as the Red Bull Car Park Drift makes its return to Dubai.

After being staged in Ajman last year, where Al Zaabi claimed the crown to reach the Series Final in Oman, the event is back in Dubai and will be hosted at City Walk’s Green Planet parking lot on Friday.

Some of the region’s most talented drifters will battle on a course designed to bring out the best of their abilities through challenging obstacles and winding roads.

The energy is expected to be high once again as the spectator-friendly Red Bull Car Park Drift is known for drawing a lively crowd. For Al Zaabi, the electricity in the air can be overwhelming but the Emirati has experience on his side with this being his fourth UAE National Final after previously competing in 2013, 2014 and last year’s success.

“Everyone can do drifting, but it’s about how you control yourself, control your tensions, how you drive under pressure,” said the 28-year-old.

“Those are the challenges when you compete in front of people. I do believe many people are good at drifting and have talent too, but it’s challenging when you drive under pressure.”

Been there, done that: Faisal Al Zaabi.

Been there, done that: Faisal Al Zaabi.

Though he fell short against Oman’s Haitham Al Hadidy at the Series Final in Muscat last year, Al Zaabi again has his sights set on the ‘King of Drift’ title, which will be up for grabs in Kuwait on December 8.

Once again, he’ll encounter familiar obstacles in his Nissan Silvia, such as boxes and gates. But the famous pendulum is by far the toughest aspect of the course, according to Al Zaabi.

“For me, it’s whenever we have the clipping point,” he said. “There’s a cone you have to clip with the side of your car while you’re going at high speeds. That can be the difference in the points.”

Aside from the usual, nearly all of the drifters in tomorrow’s field will get their first look at a new obstacle added to the course layout – ‘The Buzzer Gate’ which will challenge drivers to successfully hit a hanging buzzer while maintaining a perfect drift.

“We had that last year in Oman in the qualifiers for the Middle East,” said Al Zaabi. “It’s not very hard, but I think it’s exciting. Abdo Feghali (legendary drifter) keeps inventing stuff which makes the track more challenging.”

Gates for the event will open at 14:00 before the top 16 drifters are whittled down to eight, four and then the winner.

“My main goal is to mix the excitement with driving under pressure,” Al Zaabi said.

“You can enjoy the course, but you have to control yourself and not go too fast or go too slow. It’s about controlling the car and giving the audience a show. That’s how I like to perform in front of people.”

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Ryan Trutch and Ross Runnass clinch victory in round two of Emirates Desert Championship

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Over 100 competitors took part in the second round of the Emirates Desert Championship along the Dubai-Hatta Road on Friday.

The track for the latest round was in a diamond shape, which offered many sharp turns, bumps and difficult dunes for the competitors, proving more challenging than round one.

Winner of auto overall, Ryan Trutch said: “I’ve done this track twice before last season. It is an extremely rough track, which is why I’m shaking to pieces now [just after the race].”

“I wasn’t sure exactly what position I was in, but I overtook everybody and nobody overtook me, so I felt like I was in a good position. There are a lot of bumps on the track, which is a bit bone jarring, but otherwise it’s a fantastic race,” he added.

Winner of the moto category, Ross Runnass said: “I was really confident in this round. Last year I was leading both these round in the technical stages. So, when the track gets really rough, I was able to use bike skills a lot, which is what I prefer.”

The next round will be on 8 December at a location to be announced a day before the event.

All additional information can be found at www.emiratesdesertchampionship.ae or by contacting [email protected] for press inquiries.

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