Natasha Seatter registered another double victory in the Formula Gulf 1000 after taking the chequered flag in Rounds 3 and 4 at the Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi over the weekend.
Spanish driver Nick Canal took pole position during the morning’s qualifying session with a lap just 0.0149 of a second better than Rahul Mayer, who had flown in from Malaysia for the event. All drivers qualified within one-and-a-half seconds.
Sharing the weekend with the Porsche GT3 Middle East Challenge, Round 3 got underway with Canal getting a great start, which was not the case for Mayer, or Emirati driver Haytham Sultan Al Ali, who had qualified in third place.
But it was not long before Southeast Asia’s fastest lady driver, Seatter, closed in on Canal.
Seatter made her move on lap 19 to take the lead, which she held on to finish just two seconds ahead of Canal followed by Mayer, Sultan, Saeed Bintouq and Harsh Rajpal.
The fastest lap went to Seatter on lap 21. With the grid for Round 4 based on the result of the previous race, Seatter made a blistering start, leaving Canal and Mayer behind.
Mayer, however, appeared to have the edge over Canal and made his move to pass the latter and then set off after Seatter.
He closed the gap to less than five seconds, setting the fastest lap time of the race on lap 21 in the process, to finish on the podium in second place ahead of Canal.
Team principal Barry Hope said: “We always knew that if we gave drivers identical cars it would make them focus totally on their driving.”
Rounds 5 and 6 take place at the Dubai Motorsport Festival on December 13-14 at the Dubai Autodrome.
Batelco held on to their early advantage 12 hours into the Kartdrome 24 Hours, the final round of the 2012 Endurance Challenge driven by Mini, with CG Racing 2 and Dubai Falcons hot on the heels of the Bahraini team.
After qualifying in pole position, Batelco took the lead with Alban Varrutti doing the first stint, followed closely by both CG Racing entries, driven by David Terrien and Rami Azzam, with Sheikh Hasher Al Maktoum of the Dubai Falcons a little further back.
Batelco lead the championship, but as long as Dubai Falcons have a fighting chance of nabbing the top prize, they will be relentless and have the drivers capable of the feat.
Team bosses have been eyeing the skies nervously as rain is a possibility which could cause havoc.
Much is expected to change before the chequered flag falls at 14:00 this afternoon.
Reigning champion Abdulaziz Al Faisal won races 3 and 4 of the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East at the Yas Marina Circuit on Friday evening.
After securing pole position on the 16-car grid, Al Faisal produced a champion’s performance to take maximum points from both races.
In Race 4, the Saudi star saw off challenges from Al Nabooda Racing’s Clemens Schmid, who finished second and Qatar’s Abdul Rahman Al Thani in third, winning by a margin of 11.148 seconds.
Al Faisal said: “It was easier than the first race, but still not easy.
“Being on pole made a difference and from there I was able to pull out a gap. Clemens made a mistake and I didn’t see him after that. I’m really pleased to have posted the quickest time in the race and it was even quicker than qualifying. It shows everything was working perfectly.”
Despite the straightforward win for Saudi Falcons driver, the real battle was to fill the second and third places on the podium.
After retiring early in Race 3, Schmid found himself fighting through the midfield after spinning on the exit of the corkscrew and falling back to sixth.
The Austrian then showed all his skill, courage and true grit to claim a spectacular second place as he raced through the field.
Schmid said: “Despite finishing second in Race 4, it has been a bad weekend for me. I lost control of the car with a simple mistake. But I showed good courage to fight back from sixth to finish second.”
Qatar’s Al Thani was involved in a head-to-head duel with the UAE’s Karim Al Azhari that lasted until the final lap before the Qatari overtook the Al Nabooda driver.