Dubai Kartdrome hosted some of the closest racing in memory of the UAE Rotax Max Challenge double header on Saturday, where racers fought it out for top honours in Round 8 of the championship.
Visiting Italian driver Emanuele Pagani focused his efforts on the Max Senior class and was rewarded with first place after a thrilling battle with Dubai schoolboy Tom Bale, who finished second, and Omani teenager Adullah Al Rawahi in third.
In a race within a race, Max Masters winner Kevin Day was pushed all the way to the finish line by second placed Raed Hassan, with Lee Arnold in third.
The DD2 Final saw Sanad Al Rawahi, Oliver George, Piers Pakenham- Walsh, Fabienne Lanz and Maurits Knopjes all targeting a win.
Pakenham-Walsh was in blistering form early on in the race with Al Rawahi, George, Lanz and Knopjes also in contention. But as the race progressed the front three got the edge and pushed each other relentlessly until the second last lap.
This is when Al Rawahi made his move to snatch the lead, and immediately opened a two second gap while Pakenham-Walsh had to dig deep to try and hold off George, Al Nabooda Racing driver Clemens Schmid had to settle for third in a rain-hit Race 2 of Round 3 of the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East at Losail International Circuit in Qatar over the weekend.
Stand-in driver Jeffrey Schmidt helped the Saudi Falcons to an impressive victory with Kuwait’s Zaid Ashkanani finishing second.
On Friday in Race 1, Schmid topped the podium with Kuwaiti Zaid Ashkanani second and Saudi Falcons’ Abdulaziz Al Faisal third.
At the end of round three, Schmid leads the championship with 146 points, Ashkanani is in second (119) and Al Faisal third (112).
For Skydive Dubai Falcons the weekend represented another learning curve as the team drove the new Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car in but to no avail as the latter crossed the line to take second place. Pakenham-Walsh finished third.
The Max Juniors class continues to grow with bigger grids than ever before, and the two youngsters dominating proceedings this season are Taymour Kermanshahchi and Pasqual Pook.
There is little to separate the two Dubai schoolboys on the track, and it was no different in the final race as they blasted into the lead, bumper to bumper, leaving the rest of the field in their wake.
In the end, Kermanshahchi did enough to take the win with the Pook runner-up and Khalid Al Wahibi third.
In the Micro Max Final, Sem Knopjes turned out comfortable winner, ahead of second placed Jamie Day and Theo Kekati in third.
In the Bambino Class, Emirati Rashid Al Daheri was unstoppable winning both time trials on the day. Kris Knopjes was second best, with Harry Hannam third in the first trial and Shrey Holmukhe third in the second trial.
The third round of Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East will be held this Friday and Saturday under floodlights at the Losail International Circuit in Qatar.
It is the third year that the Qatari track has been included in the racing calendar and Losail will host two rounds, on January 17-18 and February 1.
According to the provisional entry list, a total of 18 cars will take part over the weekend. Defending champion Clemens Schmidt of Al Nabooda Racing is leading the standings with 98 points from three victories and one second place finish so far.
Emirati driver Hasher Al Maktoum of Skydive Dubai Falcons is second with 74 points.
Free and qualifying practices will be held at 16:00 (17:00 UAE) and 18:00 on January 17 while the main race will be held at 20:45 on January 18.
Meanwhile, the second round of Qatar Challenge will also be held on January 18 at the same circuit. British driver David Walker leads the standings with 30 points after winning the first round that was held last October. Rhodelin Senga and Peter de Vido share joint second place with 18 points.
The Qatar Challenge race will start at 19:15 (20:15 UAE).
“The Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East has a reputation as a very exciting series which is run to the highest professional standards, and we are happy to continue host-ing this championship for a third year in a row,” said Qatar Motor and Motorcycling Federation president Nasser Khalifa Al Attiyah.
Walter Lechner, organiser of the GT3 Cup, said: “The Losail International Circuit provides a different challenge for the drivers under the lights and tests even the most experienced of drivers.
With the series at the half-way stage, it promises to be another second half where the pressure will increase all the drivers as they look to produce their best in every race.”
Dubai Kartdrome is all set to play host to the UAE Rotax Max Challenge (RMC) and the SWS Sprint Series in what promises to be a thrilling double header weekend.
The 2013-2014 edition of the RMC is enjoying a bumper year with more drivers than ever before across all categories. The first two races of 2014 – Rounds 7 and 8 – take place on January 17 and January 18 respectively at the Kartdrome.
The RMC features UAE championships for Max, Max Masters, DD2, DD2 Master, Junior Max, Mini Max, Micro Max and Bambino, with over 80 drivers expected to be on the grid during the course of the two days.
The top RMC drivers in the UAE championship qualify to compete in the Rotax Max World Finals at the end of the year.
Also on the bill are races counting to the global 2014 SWS Sprint Series with 30 drivers on the grid for the SWS RX7 races and 14 drivers entered to contest the Junior LR4 races on Friday.
The race day format for both categories includes practice and qualifying followed by two sprint races.
Both the series count for points in the international Sodi World Series, whereby the top points scorers will progress to the SWS World Finals.
Kartdrome manager Ryan Trutch said: “We are always proud to host these double headers at the Kartdrome as it brings together all the top young talent, who always deliver two days of superb racing.
“Al Ain Raceway has firmly established the Rotax Max Challenge as the premier karting series in the UAE and along with our very own SWS Series grassroots motorsport is thriving, all under the auspices of the Automobile and Touring Club of the UAE.”
Practice on Friday starts at 10:30, followed by qualifying at 11:15.
The first heat race of the day will be flagged off at 12:40, with the first of the five finals due to get underway at 16:10 – a similar timetable will apply for Saturday.
There will be a total of 19 races on each day. Entry for spectators is free on both days.
This weekend’s races at the Kart-drome signal the resumption of the UAE motorsport season, which went into a brief hiatus during the festive season and comes just a week after the Dubai Autodrome successfully hosted the Dunlop 24 Hours of Dubai.
The 24-hour endurance race was won by Stadler Motorsport Porsche from Switzerland.