The Iame X30 Challenge came to the Dubai Kartdrome for the first time in its history last Friday and was welcomed by a record grid of 29 karts in the X30 Senior category.
During the initial heats, three drivers moved to the top of the standings of X30 Seniors – Mauricio Hernandez, Jakob Robinson and Amna Al Qubaisi – with their best lap times all within half a second of each other.
In the final race, Hernandez roared off the line from pole position and into the lead with Robinson hot on his tail. When Hernandez slid wide on a bend, Robinson shot into the gap and out in front.
However, Hernandez would not give up so easily and he stuck himself right on Robinson’s back bumper waiting for an opportunity to pounce. That opportunity came in the last lap on the final corner, but this time Hernandez couldn’t make the move stick as he attempted to dive inside Robinson and was too late, missing the pass and spinning his kart sideways.
With a fist in the air of celebration, Robinson was first across the finish line, with Enzo Fontanella and Alexandre Silanine taking advantage of the failed pass to sneak in with second and third place respectively.
It was heartbreak for Hernandez, who went from challenging for the win down to seventh place in just one corner.
In the Masters sub-category of X30 Senior, for drivers 30 years and older, it was Craig Shenton who triumphed over Kyle Blockley for the top step of the podium, while Hussain Umid Ali secured third.
The fastest karts on the day belonged to the X30 Shifter/Veteran class, with lap times approaching a blistering 56 seconds.
Khaled Al Qubaisi and Team Abu Dhabi-Proton Racing finished fourth at the penultimate round of the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC), the 6 Hours of Shanghai, in class LMGTE Am on Sunday.
The team now goes into the final round in Bahrain later this month third overall and still in with a chance to move up and finish the season in second place in class.
Al Qubaisi shared driving duties with David Heinemeier-Hansson of Denmark and Patrick Long of the US behind the wheel of the No88 Porsche 911 RSR.
Long kicked things off for the team and managed to avoid crashing into an LMP2 car following an incident just before the first corner involving car No45 that required deployment of the safety car. As a result, Long went back to sixth in class from third at the restart of the race which cost the team precious time.
However, the American then put pedal to metal and reclaimed his third position. He moved up to P2 in class before handing over the week to Al Qubaisi. The Emirati kept up the pressure on his opponents with some aggressive driving, swapping the P2 and P3 positions at regular intervals.
During the third stint, Hansson took to the wheel in P2 however, as he was nearing the end of his session he dropped down to P4 due to issues with the tyres. Al Qubaisi took the wheel in the final stint and brought the car home safely to take fourth in class and still third overall going into the final race of the season in Bahrain on November 19.
“The result could have been better,” said Al Qubaisi. “The incident, which was no fault of ours, cost us precious time. We did our best here in China. “In racing, these issues crop up. But now we are totally focused on the final race in Bahrain where we will push ourselves to the limit and try and move up to P2 in the final classification in class.”
The overall race was won by the No 1 Porsche 919 Hybrid crew of Timo Bernhard, Mark Webber and Brendon Hartley, who secured a second consecutive 2016 FIA World Endurance Manufacturer title for the German marque with one round remaining.
Porsche took a commanding victory in front of 55,000 spectators, leading for the vast majority of the race.
Ali & Sons, the exclusive Audi dealer in the capital have invested $60m in the Audi brand in Abu Dhabi over the last two years and this is the latest part of that investment.
The Centre, based in Al Sawari Tower A on the Corniche Road, is the new home for Audi Sport RS and R models only as the company places more emphasis on its sports cars and racing heritage.
It was officially inaugurated last night by Stephan Winkelmann, CEO of Audi Sport, Le Mans racing legend Tom Kristensen, Ali Bin Khalfan Al Mutawa Al Dhaheri, Chairman of Ali & Sons, and Mark Austin, General Manager of Audi Ali & Sons.
Austin said: “This is an investment in the future. The new Audi Sport Centre is a dedicated space for high-performance car lovers.
“The look and feel is distinct and the whole flavour is about luxury, from the main entrance with its red walkway to the Audi exclusive lounge area in the mezzanine level.
“Abu Dhabi is the perfect market to open the first Audi Sport showroom, as our buyers are very conscious of the latest models. It is also a big car market, with an emphasis on high-end cars like the Audi R8.”