The opening round of the 2014- 2015 NGK Racing Series took place at Yas Marina Circuit on Saturday, which produced two intriguing races that saw McLaren, Porsche and Ferrari battle it out for top honours while there was also close action in the UAE Touring Cars class as well as the Clio Cup race-within-a-race.
The big winner on the day in Abu Dhabi was Gautam Singhania in the Dragon Racing Ferrari, winning both races ahead of Fred Fatien second in the sister car, and Bashar Mardini taking third place in his Porsche.
In the Touring Car category, it was a good day for the Gulf Petrochem team with Costas Papantonis topping Class 1 in his SEAT in both races.
— Yas Marina Circuit (@ymcofficial) October 31, 2014
The Annivas brothers, Alexandros and Constantinos, finished first and second in the combined UAE Touring Cars and the Clio Cup class at the wheel of the blue-and-white Renault Clios.
Round 2 of the NGK Racing Series will now take place at the Dubai Autodrome on the weekend of November 14, while the Kartdrome will host SWS Karting Round 2.
Sheikh Khalid Al Qassimi will lead a five-car Abu Dhabi Racing team when he returns to his happy hunting ground at Rally Oman, a trial event for the FIA Middle East Rally Championship (MERC), this weekend and look to build on the victory he last secured in the Sultanate in 2007.
Abu Dhabi Racing are part of 24 cars registered to take the start line this weekend, and Sheikh Khalid, fresh from his final WRC campaign in Spain, faces a stiff challenge.
Among those who will challenge the Abu Dhabi resident for top honours are his brother Sheikh Abdullah, the Qatari trio of Abdulaziz and Abdulla Al Kuwari, and Khalifa Saleh Al Attiyah.
Sheikh Khalid will also be challenged by local stars Khalid Al Minji and Faisal Al Rashdi, who have the advantage of racing in familiar surroundings on home soil.
However, Sheikh Khalid is not new to the terrain having won the event in 2007, the last time Oman hosted a round of the MERC.
Sheikh Khalid, who recently won the Abu Dhabi trial event, said: “I am really looking forward to the weekend and I wish everyone the best of luck.
“In Oman, many factors will have to be taken into account. After winning in Abu Dhabi I travelled directly to Spain and now we are heading to Oman.
“The terrain in Oman is totally different to Abu Dhabi and Spain, so we have a lot of work to do on the car’s set up.”
The ADR lead driver added: “My aim in Oman is to win, but I also would like to see our junior team perform well.
“It will be important for them to have patience and complete the rally. In doing so, they will gain many miles of valuable experience.”
Racing in 2WD Citroen DS3 R3s, ADR junior drivers Mohamed Al Mutawaa, Saeed Bintouq, Juma Al Falasi and Mansoor Belhelei will look to impress in Oman.
Rally Oman is being organised ahead of the Sultanate’s possible inclusion as a round of the MERC in 2015, along with the UAE and Shiraz in Iran.
The possible inclusion of these three rallies for the new season in 2015 would expand the regional championship from the current six to a total of nine rounds.
The 172.8km long rally will be run over 13 Special Stages spread over three days, from October 30 to November 1.
A 3.54km Spectator Stage will be held today (Thursday), while the following two days will consist of six stages each totalling 83.86km and 85.4km respectively.
Following the conclusion of the weekend’s trial event, the UAE, Iran and the Sultanate will have to wait until December 3, when the FIA’s annual general assembly meets in Doha, to find out if they have made the cut for 2015.
Al Nabooda Racing will have Clemens Schmid fit to start the new 2014-15 season as they chase a third successive team title in the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East.
Schmid has recovered from the back injury sustained during race action in Germany last week and is relishing the chance to partner Oman’s Ahmad Al Harthy in the Porsche GT3 Cup series which gets under way at Bahrain International Circuit on 14-15 November.
“I’ve still got a little bit of bruising, but apart from that everything is normal,” said the Austrian driver.
“I spent a couple of days in hospital just to make sure nothing was broken and then rested at home for three more days, but now I’ve been given a clean bill of health and can’t wait for the start of the new season.”
Prior to teaming up with Al Harthy for the first time in Al Nabooda Racing colours in Bahrain, Schmid will compete in this weekend’s final round of the Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup in the US.
“We’re very enthusiastic about the new partnership between Clemens and Ahmad and we’re all systems go now for the start of the season in Bahrain,” said Vijay Rao, Team Manager.
Al Nabooda Racing captured their second consecutive team title in the Porsche GT3 Cup series last season with 65-points to spare over the runners up, Saudi Falcons.