Dubai Autodrome will host its first race meeting of the 2015-2016 season on the National Circuit configuration tomorrow, with a full programme of championship action featuring the NGK Racing Series, UAE Sportbikes, the Formula Gulf 1000 and the Radical Middle East Cup.
Combining an eclectic mix of racing classes with anything from GT3 cars to the hot hatch Clio Cup, the NGK Racing Series enters round two at the championship’s home track after its opening round two weeks ago at Yas Marina Circuit.
The man to beat last time out in Abu Dhabi was Leon Price in the Dragon Racing Ferrari and he could again set the pace in a series which features a mix of classes catering for just about any raceworthy car.
Also in the mix, in Class 1, are multiple UAE champion Costas Papantonis in his Gulf Petrochem Seat Leon Super Copa and Peter England in his Opel Astra.
All eyes will be on the race-within-the-race Clio Cup where a cluster of drivers will be out to claim top spot on the podium in a series that is well known to produce side-by-side racing.
The UAE Sportbikes will feature two wheel veterans such as UAE champions Abdulaziz Binladen (Kawasaki) and Mahmoud Tannir (Yamaha) doing battle with a host of rookies in the series which caters for both 1000cc and 600cc machines.
Also on the bill are races for the Formula Gulf 1000, featuring young up-and-coming drivers making their first foray into the world of single seater racing after success in karting.
On track action on Friday starts with qualifying for the NGK Racing Series at 09:00.
Team UAE driver Luke Varley and Oman based brothers, Sanad and Abdullah Al Rawahi, starred on qualifying day for the 2015 Rotax MAX Challenge Grand Finals on Wednesday.
However, their teammates end-ured mixed fortunes on an action packed day at Kartodromo Internacional Algarve, in southern Portugal.
Varley, the 2009 MAX Champion, used all of his experience to secure second place on the DD2 grid which includes former Brazilian Formula 1 driver and grand prix winner Rubens Barrichello among the 72 DD2 champions from around the world.
Varley managed to avoid the traffic on his flying lap, to put down a marker that sets him up well for the all important heat races. In the end he was a mere three hundredths of a second down on the pole winner Ferenc Kancsar from Hungary.
Varley said: “Qualifying was a little bit tough in the beginning with a lot of drivers waiting for the ideal moment to go out.
“It took me a couple of laps to find my position on track, but when I did the kart felt really good and I managed to put in a really good lap so I am very happy.”
Varley, who is also team manager of the Daman Speed Academy, added: “It’s going to be a long weekend of racing, we only have one set of tyres for the warm-up, the Heat races, the Pre-Final and Final.
“It will be a case of playing it safe, managing tyres and see where we stand on Saturday afternoon for the Final.”
Sanad Al Rawahi impressed with a flurry of strong laps despite being mixed up in traffic to finish third in his session which was good enough for tenth overall, with almost the entire field separated by just over a second.
Piers Pakenham-Walsh was less fortunate and was 40th in the rankings, albeit only 0.423 of a second off the pole position time.
In the MAX class Abdullah Al Rawahi was constantly at the sharp end on the timing screens and in the end secured the sixth best time, in the field of 72 of the world’s best Rotax MAX drivers.
Tom Bale was 20th after enduring an action packed session which saw him end up with a bent axle, as Patrick Hannah finished 29th overall in a class that saw the top 63 setting times within a second of one another.
Tony Hogg was the top DD2 Masters driver from Team UAE with the 56th best time, followed by Hussein Umid Ali 67th and Jonathan
Mowatt was 71st.
Taymour Kermanshahchi was fastest of Team UAE’s Junior MAX drivers, with Grand Finals rookie Amna Al Qubaisi next best and the only female driver in the junior category
A strong Team UAE have arrived in the Algarve town of Portimao where they are part of 288 champion drivers who will participate in the 2015 Rotax MAX Challenge Grand Finals.
Drivers face a challenging schedule of practice and qualifying sessions, along with several heat races between Tuesday and Friday, which culminate in the Pre-Finals and Grand Finals on Saturday.
The event features all the Rotax MAX champions from more than 50 countries competing for one of the most prestigious titles in international karting.
Last year, UAE-based Sean Babington won the DD2 World championship title and with it established the country on the role of honour.
Babington is absent, unable to defend his title due to personal reasons.
His place in the squad has been taken by 2009 MAX World Champion Luke Varley.
Abu Dhabi schoolgirl Amna Al Qubaisi makes history by becoming the first female driver for Team UAE at the Grand Finals.
Team UAE Manager Guy Sheffield said: “Our team gets stronger each year, and we are confident of an impressive showing by the drivers who will fly the UAE flag this weekend.”