In the UAE Sportbike races, Abdul Azziz Binladin and Mashel Al Naimi claimed a victory each. Hanna won the first of two NGK races by three seconds from Benham, but the latter – racing at the Autodrome for the very first time – won a close-fought Race 2 by one and a half seconds from Hanna. Benham said after his Race 2 victory:
“Really a good weekend. It was my first time in Dubai and also first time at this circuit. More than happy with the result and totally unexpected, so absolutely delighted. I will be back for sure.”
In Class 1, Peter England scored two wins in his Vauxhall, with BMW driver Marcel Kusin runnerup on both occasions. Simon Dennis also scored a double win on the day in the Clio Cup/Class 2 races.
He was chased hard by Alexandros Annivas and Will Morrison, both in Renault Clios, who finished second and third respectively.
Reigning UAE champion Abdulazizi Binladin and multiple Qatar champion Mashel Al Naimi shared a win each in UAE Sportbikes Championship.
Kawasaki-mounted Binladin won Race 1 with Al Naimi scoring a DNF due to a technical issue on his Yamaha. Fahad Al Suwaidi was second on his Honda, with Ahmed Almuyni third. Kris Murphy on a Yamaha was top rookie.
Al Naimi bounced back from Race 1 disappointment, setting the fastest lap by a healthy margin on his way to scoring a dominant victory over Yamaha rider Nawaf Al Shuaibi, with Leigh Young in third doing enough to claim the Rookie Cup, and Binladin was fourth.
CG Racing Pro topped a battle of 29 teams that lasted 12 hours to win the first round of the 2016 Kartdrome Endurance Championship.
The team, made up of David Terrien, Alban Varutti and Rami Azzam saw off a tense battle, decided by the narrowest of margins in the final minutes, to win the first of four championship rounds.
With an hour to go, Batelco Racing led from CG Racing Pro and the two teams emerged from their final pits stops nose to tail. They proceeded to battle it out for the final half hour as if in a sprint race.
In the end CG Racing Pro, with Varutti in the driving seat, managed to take the lead and edge ahead to win by 9.9 seconds – one of the closest finishes in the 12-year history of the event.
Batelco Racing had to settle for second place, followed by reigning champions Dubai Falcon Racing.
LD Racing set the cat among the pigeons by claiming pole position and taking the early lead after the Le Mans-style start set the field off on the 12 hours adventure.
The Russian team – of Marat Gubaldulin, Dmitry Levin, Stanislav Burmistrov and Konstantin Mandrikov – were always at the sharp end of the on-track battles and in the end finished fourth which was enough to claim top prize in the prestigious Nations Cup.
Throughout the race, several teams battled in among the top spots with a number of lead changes during the 12 hours.
In the hunt, along with Batelco and CG Racing Pro, were the likes of Dubai Falcon Racing, LD Racing, ENOC NH8, Mach 1, Fly Emirates, Team Emirates and KMS Dubai.
Al Nabooda Racing of Dubai dominated the podium at the Bahrain International Circuit in the opening race of the final round of the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East Season 7, with Zaid Ashkanani edging teammate Jeffrey Schmidt for the top spot.
Qatar’s Charlie Frijns, who started the race on pole, finished a credible third after battling hard against the Al Nabooda duo.
In spite of some anxious moments as the two teammates battled for supremacy, it was exactly the outcome the team champions wanted. Both drivers eventually safely returned their cars ahead of rivals and Ashkanani claimed a well-deserved first race win.
Despite the slight disappointment of not adding another race victory to his tally, the result meant that Schmidt moves one step closer to the overall driver’s title.
With only one race remaining, the young driver in his debut season remains 24 points ahead of Ashkanani (224) with Ryan Cullen (210) third. Schmidt will now be crowned champion on Saturday as long as he can avoid disaster and finish anywhere in the points in the final race.
Entering the final weekend, Kuwaiti star Ashkanani held only a slim chance of overcoming Schmidt. But right from the opening corner, the former champion showed his fighting qualities.
After starting from second on the grid, he dived into the lead on the tight right-hand corner and proceeded to control the race despite Schmidt putting him under pressure.
Speaking after the win, Ashkanani said: “I am really happy with my performance today, it’s my first win of the season and it has felt like a long time coming. It was a very tough battle with my team mate Jeffery, he was really putting the pressure on me from behind.”