Thrills galore as TRD 86 Cup goes down to the wire at Yas Marina Circuit

Denzil Pinto 26/04/2016
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The Toyota 86 cars provided intense competition in Abu Dhabi.

The second edition came to an end at the iconic Yas Marina Circuit last week and it certainly provided plenty of high voltage drama during the eight months.

Designed to give amateurs a chance to compete in a professional racing competition in a Toyota 86 car, six of the drivers from the inaugural season, including champion Karim Al Azhari, returned to the grid for the two-race, six-round series.

They were joined by seven new faces, including American Bill Martin, Saudi youngster Nahar Al Rashed and ex-world rally championship co-driver Gregory Pain.

Before the drivers had even tested their cars, Al Azhari sent out an early warning that he wasn’t going to give up his title easily.

The 43-year-old was the man to beat, having taken the chequered flag 10 times in the 12 races across the six rounds in the first season to top the standings with 238 points.

A look back at an action-packed TRD 86 Cup.

The German stayed true to his words. Opening the season with a first-race triumph, he went on to become the fastest on nine occasions. He even clocked the season’s fastest time of 20:00.943 in the fourth round.

Despite his rivals piling on the pressure, Al Azhari remained focused and that was enough to accumulate 220 points, 28 clear of runner-up Mohammed Abdulghaffer Hussein.

It wasn’t just Al Azhari who stole the show. He was pushed all the way by the UAE’s Hussein, who remarkably did not win one single race.

The 39-year-old finished runner-up four times, while sealing third six times. He did have something to celebrate though as he reigned supreme in the Silver category – open for novice drivers.

Last season’s runner-up Ahmed Al Melaihi finished a distant third with 154 points.

The Emirati was one of three drivers (apart from Al Azhari) to win a race, having triumphed in the second race of round three at the Dubai Autodrome.

Frenchman Pain had never even raced on a circuit prior to the championship, despite having more than eight years of rallying experience.

But he had a debut season to remember to not only finish fourth in the overall standings but also end his campaign in style by triumphing in the final race of the season.

Another man to deny Al Azhari at the top was Shihab Al Faheem. The Emirati had topped the standings as early as round two, having won the second race in the opener back in October. But due to personal reasons, he missed three rounds to finish sixth, four points behind Lebanon’s Edy Saaiby (114).

At just 19, Al Rashed was the youngest-ever driver to line up in the competition, but the Saudi showed no signs of nerves. His best finish was fourth in the opening round and although he did miss the podium and some rounds, the student claimed 10th place overall.

The third edition begins in October and Al Azhari is already looking forward to defending his title.

“I was very happy when Yas Marina Circuit launched this championship and I’m happy to be part of it. It is a great move for local motorsport in the UAE,” he said.

“I’ve seen the rookies develop a lot throughout the season and they gave me a hard time, so I’m relishing the challenge.

“This season was hard and very challenging because the drivers keep improving and that shows how strong this competition is.”

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JESS Arabian Ranches win inaugural Emirates Schools Karting Championship

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The victorious team with their trophy.

JESS (Arabian Ranches) containing Eliot Jones, Max Tryggvason, Sam Burtonwood and Harry Tryggvason, didn’t win on the day but drove well enough to hold off their rivals and earn the ESKC seasonal crown.

Ghost Racing Team, with Sameer Mohideen, Sayed Taifur, Samuel Garbutt and Lorenzo Terrone, dominated the race day and were awarded the overall round four win trophy as well as the 2016 Nomad Cup, the category for teams with drivers from different schools.

Fifteen student teams lined up on the grid for the final round, which encompassed 90 minutes of endurance kart racing rather than the shorter 60 minutes drivers were accustomed to from the previous three rounds.

The added time and the earlier midday race schedule meant that drivers would have to remain focused and teams would have to execute perfect pit stop strategies to find success.

JESS (Arabian Ranches) missed the top step of the podium in the ESKC Category but they had earned enough points to win the inaugural Emirates Schools Karting Championship for 2016.

DESC 1 moved from sixth position on the grid to fourth at the finish, which gave them enough points to secure second place.

Repton School just missed getting a race victory but they didn’t miss out on a season trophy, with enough points to earn third place in the ESKC championship.

“We had to beat DESC 1 because if they had beaten us (today), they would have beaten us in the championship but luckily we stormed away from them,” said Jones.

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EXCLUSIVE: First pictures of Zarooq Sand Racer built in UAE

Steve McKenlay 24/04/2016
Introducing the new Zarooq Sand Racer.

Pictured by Sport360 in Dubai where it is being built, the Zarooq is a road-legal production vehicle which will be capable of tackling dunes with the power-to-weight ratio of a supercar and will be the first of a series of elite high performance cars.

The name of the vehicle is inspired by the Schokari Sand Racer, the fastest and most agile snake in the desert which is known as a Zarooq in Arabic.

It was designed in the UAE by Anthony Jannarelly, famous for the Lykan Hypersport, which starred in the film Fast and Furious 7.

The chassis was designed in cooperation with Campos Racing who compete in various race series.

The hand built car, which has a closed cockpit and air conditioning, weighs just 1,100kg and is powered by a 3.5-litre V6 which will have up to 500bhp.

The three founding directors behind the Zarooq all have a strong racing pedigree.

Mohammed Al Qadi is an Emirati who has organised national and international races in the UAE for 15 years. Bruno Laffite, nephew of Jacques Lafitte, is a succesful racing driver and Iannis Mardell has a strong strategy and business consulting background in motorsport.

The plan is to launch a dedicated single-make championship in the UAE for the Zarooq Sand Racer with complete maintenance and support packages. The cars will be raced on a dedicated Dubai off-road circuit where drivers will enjoy the best sand facilities in the world.

Mardell said: “The track will allow UAE residents and companies as well as foreign visitors to try the Zarooq Sand Racer for themselves. There will be arrive-and-drive offers as well as corporate event facilites and we will be launching an off-road racing school.”

The car can be pre-ordered now with first deliveries expected later this year. For more details see www.zarooqmotors.com.

Photos by Chris Whiteoak.

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