With 31 sponsor prizes on offer, 101 local and international drivers were enticed to contest the 2017 Dubai O Plate Karting Championship over Saturday and Sunday at Dubai Kartdrome.
Karters battled it out over two days to determine O Plate champions in nine categories.
The combined grid of IAME X30 Senior (ages 15 and older) and Masters (ages 30 and older), was the largest of the event and included some famous names in the karting community.
F4 UAE driver Sean Babington, winner of multiple British, European and world karting titles, was the class favourite, but karting aces Abdullah Al Rawahi, and Mauricio Hernandez made sure it wasn’t easy.
However, once he fought off the challengers, Babington sailed in for the victory, 0.901 seconds ahead of Abdullah Al Rawahi with Mauricio Hernandez claiming third.
The fight for the IAME X30 Masters category was waged within the same race as Senior, and reigning champ Ali Al Najjar, also with Energy Corse, took top honours for the second year running. Dario Rubio settled for second place silverware while Nadia Khan earned third.
Young Emirati driver Rashid Al Dhaheri was likewise a dominant force on the weekend. Driving a Tony Kart body, he earned pole position in the IAME X30 (ages 10-12) Pre-Finals and went on to defeat the field in the Final Race, taking the chequered flag almost eight seconds ahead of his nearest rival, Ahmed Al Saadi for second and Mohammed Al Habsi in third.
Al Dhaheri also set a Dubai O Plate record, taking top honours on the podium four years in a row.
The 2017 calendar of motorsport action will get off to a roaring start as the UAE’s premier urban racing series rolls into Yas Marina Circuit this weekend.
Throughout the two-day event on January, 19 and 20, more than 100 of the UAE’s best urban racers will put their cars to the test in the region’s rawest, grittiest, ultra-competitive environment and battle it out for more than Dh25,000 in cash prizes.
With the biggest and best field to date, spectators can watch drivers and their souped-up machines compete across five separate categories that include; 4×4 Super Street SUV’; ‘Index 11.5’; ‘Index 10.5’; ‘Index 9.0’ and ‘Super Street – Open Category’.
Saud Al Qaydi, motorsport manager at Yas Marina Circuit, said: “At Yas Marina Circuit, we have many forms of racing and Yas Super Street Challenge is motorsport in its rawest form. We are delighted to welcome the competitors who will return for our third season.
“The series was initially created so that motorsport enthusiasts from across the UAE could come together in a safe drag racing space and take it off the streets. We are thrilled to see the series back with one of our biggest number of entries so far.”
Yas Super Street Challenge offers a professional racing environment for grassroots level prices and with a raft of cash prizes again up for grabs, this season promises to be even more exciting than last year.
The cost of entry is only Dh400 per driver, and with access to the pit lane for support crews costing only Dh100, this season’s experience is not only unique, but affordable too.
Those quickest off the line can win a range of cash prizes, with Dh5,000 going to third place, Dh10,000 for second, and Dh15,000 for first.
Anyone who prefers to cheer from the grandstand is also welcome and entry is priced at only Dh50, dropping to Dh30 for students carrying a valid student ID. The on-track excitement will be complemented by a wide range of on-site food trucks for spectators to enjoy.
VIP tickets are available at Dh250, providing access to VIP parking, as well as the best viewing seats in the house, the drag paddock area.
For more information on Yas Super Street Challenge, visit: www.yasmarinacircuit.com or call 800 YAS (927).
Like any 12-year old, the Hankook 24 Hours of Dubai is reaching a crossroads as it grows into its teenage years and judging by some rumblings around the pits over the weekend, there appears to be some angst brewing.
I’ve been a part of every race and I’ve watched it develop from a family-friendly, club-style event into something that still maintains its childhood innocence but now also takes on a larger, more globally important role.
For a year or two now, some drivers at the pointy end have said they’re not happy with the amount of overtaking required and the number of slow cars which make up the field; even calling for a separate event that will take the tiny tots into a race of their own.
With 92 cars on the grid it’s one of the biggest motor racing fields in the world and you could argue that case for them when you see the quickest GT3 Porsche 911s, Mercedes GTs and Audi R8s monstering the helpless Honda Integras and Peugeot 208s, lapping them before they’ve even completed the second of what will be nearly 600 tours of the Autodrome.
The speed of the outright contenders is nothing short of phenomenal as these thinly disguised, purpose-built race cars cover the 5.34km circuit, 17 and a half seconds quicker than the back markers every lap. At the end of Saturday’s race that equated to an 82 lap difference between the winning Porsche and the Peugeot 208GTI in 46th position. Eighty two laps!
But asking for them to leave and race on someone else’s lawn is not the answer. Far from it, it’s precisely this factor which makes the Dubai 24-Hour one of the most entertaining races of the year, anywhere in the world.
This year we were lucky enough to have former Formula One drivers Jean-Eric Vergne and Robert Kubica as well as 2015 World Endurance Champion and factory Porsche 919 driver Brendon Hartley choosing to race with us.
While from a manufacturer perspective, AudiSport’s new CEO, Stephan Winkelmann flew out and spent the two full days in Audi’s hospitality so he could witness the world debut of its new RS3 LMS car. The RS3 will be campaigned around the globe this year in the new TCS championship and Audi chose Dubai to show it off to the world and hopefully get a few sales from gentleman racers.
Right now, the Dubai 24-Hour is a brilliant combination between the haves and the have nots, all racing together, sharing the same track. When you’re racing a slow car against faster machinery, the general rule is to hold your line and let the faster guy find a way through.
He always will. And that’s as true in the Dubai 24-Hour as it is for Lewis Hamilton in his Mercedes trying to lap Felipe Nasr’s Sauber in an F1 GP. A quick driver will find a way past using a combination of speed and race craft. Perhaps that is something the whingers lack.
A lot of horsepower under the right foot doesn’t make you a fast driver. Being able to place your car accurately and safely to maneuver your way past slower cars who are in their own class battles is what makes a champion driver and a race winner.
Let’s leave the Dubai 24-Hour as it is, with its wonderfully full grid of diverse cars and diverse budgets, where family-run teams who live a few kms from the track and prepare their cars in Al Quoz garages can mix it with F1 stars, LeMans winners and the best and biggest budgets from Stuttgart, Ingolstadt, or Sant‘agata.