Batelco maintains perfect record in Endurance Championship

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Closing in on title: Bahrain’s Batelco.

Batelco made it three wins from three at the Dubai Kartdrome 700km yesterday, taking the lead late on in proceedings and thereaf­ter powering to their third consecu­tive victory in the 2014 Endurance Championship driven by MINI.

Reigning champions CG Racing Pro had to settle for second place, but nevertheless took home seven trophies for their efforts in the Nations Cup and Corporate Cat­egory.

On Friday night, 34 teams took to the track with championship leaders Batelco and CG Racing Pro immediately setting the pace while the likes of Mach 1, Dubai Falcon Racing, Dubai-5 and GP Racing in the mix. After the first few hours, CG Racing Pro began to edge ahead and at one stage took a 50-second from Batelco. But the Bahraini team were not done, and proceeded to reel in their rivals.

During the last hour stint of the race with Alban Varutti at the wheel, Batelco were 12 seconds behind the leaders, which prompted their lead driver to dig deep. With a handful of laps to go he took the lead and the chequered flag to claim a hard fought win, by a mere 5.712 seconds after completing 583 laps.

Batelco team manager Ali Abbas said: “To put it simply, our crew in the pit garage conceived a good strategy and our drivers responded by delivering.”

CG Racing Pro were second over­all, ahead of team-mates CG Rac­ing 1 in third, which was enough to clinch top spot in the Corpo­rate Category and first prize in the Nations Cup. Dubai-5 were fourth overall, ahead of CG Racing 2 in fifth followed by Timeless Events Racing, Speedsters Motorheads, Globacom1 Flame, Mach 1 Blacklist and MINI Dubai rounding out the top 10.

Quattro Toreros Racing took home the trophy for best rookie team, and Ceylon Karters bagged the Best Spirit award.

Kartdrome assistant manager David Bright said: “It was very close out there as our hard working team delivered very evenly matched karts to the 34 teams.”

The decisive final round will be held from November 28-29. 

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Khalid drives motorsport’s growth in UAE

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Ambitious plans for the future: ADR chairman Sheikh Khalid Al Qassimi.

Sheikh Khalid Al Qassimi has revealed that the reasoning behind bringing Abu Dhabi back into the regional fold by pushing for a round of the FIA Middle East Rally Championship (MERC) is manifold, with an emphasis on Emiratis and motorsport.

Speaking to Sport360° ahead of the Abu Dhabi Rally trial event this weekend, which is aimed at satisfying the FIA that the capital is capable of organising a rally to the satisfaction of motorsport’s world governing body, Sheikh Khalid said: “We at Abu Dhabi Racing are working on several programmes, such as building a new generation of local Emirati rally and circuit drivers.

“We at ADR believe that we have to give the maximum to our community and to motorsport. I want to give it the best push and refresh motorsport and to also promote Abu Dhabi in the best way possible. 

“So, the idea of bringing Abu Dhabi Rally back in a totally new shape has always been part of my plans.”

Abu Dhabi last hosted a round of the MERC in 2006, but that was under the aegis of the Automobile and Touring Club of the UAE. 

Hence, when asked if Abu Dhabi Racing had the experience and expertise to organise an event of such a scale, Sheikh Khalid added: “We wouldn’t think of bringing the rally back if we did not have the facilities.

“Yes, we at ADR were behind the idea and we are supporting the rally. But what is important here is that Yas Motor Racing Club is organising the rally. 

“YMRC has its team who are capable of organising the candidate event under the supervision of Ahmed M Helal Al Kaabi, chairman of Abu Dhabi Rally Organising Committee,” Sheikh Khalid added.

Confirming that an FIA observer would be present at the candidate event this weekend, it can now be revealed that motorsport’s world governing body’s Hani Shaaban will assess the event, while Nasser Khalifa Al Attiyah, the FIA vice president in charge of the Middle East and North Africa area, is already in the UAE and is most likely to flag off the rally.

Asked why the trial event has been restricted to just one day, apart from the spectator stage today (Thursday), the ADR boss said: “Together with the rally organisers, we believe that it’s not about holding one or two days of racing; it’s about the quality of the rally in terms of organising, stages, safety and meeting FIA standards.”

Sheikh Khalid also disclosed that ADR would be fully represented at the event, with ‘Abu Dhabi Racing-Citroen Middle East Trophy’ junior drivers Mohamed Al Mutawaa, Mohammed Al Sahlawi, Juma Al Falasi, Saeed Bintooq and Mansoor Belhelei, and himself participating.

Sheikh Khalid came into the spotlight in 2002 when he won the MERC Group N title. Since then, he has gone from strength to strength, currently second in the MERC standings. He is also participating in select WRC rounds with Citroen Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team.

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Al Futtaim Motors and Yas launch TRD 86 Cup 12-race series

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Made for racing: The race ready TRD 86 Cup car will be provided to competitors at a cost of Dh150,000 per season.

Al Futtaim Motors and Yas Marina Circuit yesterday announced the launch of the TRD 86 Cup with the first round set to take place from December 11-13.

The TRD 86 Cup will consist of six weekends with two races per weekend, and include two classes – masters for experienced drivers and a rookie class. Drivers will com­pete to win a range of cash prizes.

Toyota Racing Development (TRD) is an aftermarket parts dis­tributor since 1979, and has since grown to become one of the most celebrated engineering companies in motorsport, producing tuning products and performance compo­nents for Toyota vehicles.

The TRD 86 Cup will offer a cost-effective entry into the high-adrenaline world of circuit racing, combining exhilarating perform­ance, exciting race kit and livery in a low-maintenance package of Dh150,000.

Al Futtaim Motors managing director Jon Williams said: “This announcement comes in the true spirit of Toyota’s Waku Doki prom­ise – Japanese for ‘adrenaline rush’.

“The rear wheel drive Toyota 86 has proven itself as the perfect, thoroughbred motorsport vehicle, winning the V3 class Nurburgring 24 Hours in 2012.

“TRD has built a reputation for creating spirited race and sports cars, successfully participating in the All-Japan Formula 3 Champi­onship series, Super GT series, and of course the famous 24 Hours of Le Mans.

“Now, with the launch of the TRD 86 Cup, we are offering motorsport fans the chance to enter a single make championship at a very com­petitive and affordable price.”

Racing school manager at Yas Marina Circuit Faisal al Sahlawi added: “The launch of the TRD 86 Cup is extremely exciting for us here at Yas Marina Circuit.

“We’re very eager to partner with Al Futtaim Motors again, having worked with them previously to launch the Yas Drift School.

“We’re looking forward to an ex­citing TRD 86 Cup season ahead, having received very positive feed­back from the racing community. With professional expertise avail­able at the circuit to support all competitors, the TRD 86 Cup is an easily-accessible, cost-effective way for motorsport enthusiasts to enjoy the thrill of competition in a unique environment.”

Drivers interested in competing in the inaugural TRD 86 Cup season can find out more details online at www.yasmarinacircuit.com/en/mo­torsport/yas-motor-racing-club/86- cup

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