Five-time Sodi World Series (SWS) UAE champion Atef Al Barwani sped back into form on Monday night in round two of the Senior Cup at Dubai Kartdrome.
After an incredible run of five dominant years in the SWS ended in 2015, local karting legend Al Barwani had been out of the spotlight for the past year. Now it appears the Emirati is back on top form.
In race one, Al Barwani worked his way up to the leading pack, waiting for an opportunity to strike.
He said: “I was a bit lucky because two drivers in front were fighting so I said, ‘Let me just wait until the last lap because I know something is going to happen’.”
He took advantage of the scuffle to dive ahead on turn two, taking the lead and holding on until the chequered flag, just 0.652 seconds ahead of defending Ramadan Challenge champion Rami Azzam.
Race Two featured a reverse grid for the top 15 drivers of race one, which put Al Barwani and Azzam in the middle of the grid. This did little to deter either driver, as they picked their way through the field and toward the front.
Romaldo Labrooy also had a great run, moving from eighth on the grid and into the lead. He got clear of Azzam and Al Barwani and glided in for the race win, crossing the finish line 3.484 seconds in front of Azzam, with Al Barwani another 2.055 seconds back in third place.
After the points were tallied from both races, Al Barwani’s total of 73 points gave him a one-point victory over Azzam on 72 points. Labrooy earned third place with 67 points.
In the Masters category of the Senior Cup, Dario Rubio was outstanding in both races, finishing the night on 52 points to take top class honours, three points clear of Mohammed Ismail in second place with 49, with Gianluca Elmosi taking third on 44 points.
Competing against the top international junior racers at the 2017 SWS World Finals last month put Kamal Agha in top form for his return to Dubai. Despite a mediocre result in qualifying, Agha went two-for-two in the Junior Cup, taking both race wins on the night.
It was back-to-back wins for Yoshihide Muroya as he earned a double repeat with consecutive wins in a season to claim top spot overall.
The Czech Republic had a pair of pilots on the podium for the first time ever with Petr Kopfstein and Martin Sonka in second and third.
Muroya’s Final 4 time of 55.288 was a convincing 0.558 of a second ahead of Kopfstein, who earned his career-first podium in only his second World Championship season.
Meanwhile, Sonka, earned third for his second podium placing of the year.
The result escalated the drama of an already thrilling season as Muroya edged ahead of Sonka in the standings to take the top of the overall leaderboard for the first time in his career, with two race wins to one triumph for the Czech pilot.
However, they are tied in the points standings at 30 each as the eight-race World Championship heads toward its midpoint with the fourth stop in Budapest, Hungary on 1-2 July.
“We are really happy to win again in Chiba, and I want to thank everybody here in Japan for their support. I had some luck, but in the end some of the other pilots made mistakes,” said Muroya, whose previous 2017 win was at the April stop in San Diego.
“We have another five races, so we need to continue as we are doing. Our team setup is quite good, and we must stick with the same tactics, stay with the plan and go forward as normal to win more races.”
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Results Master Class Chiba 2017:
1. Yoshihide Muroya (JPN), 2. Petr Kopfstein (CZE), 3. Martin Šonka (CZE), 4. Matthias Dolderer (GER), 5. Michael Goulian (USA), 6. Matt Hall (AUS), 7. Pete McLeod (CAN), 8. Kirby Chambliss (USA), 9. Mikaël Brageot (FRA), 10. Juan Velarde (ESP), 11. François Le Vot (FRA), 12. Peter Podlunšek (SLO), 13. Nicolas Ivanoff (FRA), 14. Cristian Bolton (CHI)
World Championship standings after three races:
1. Yoshihide Muroya (JPN) 30 pts, 2. Martin Šonka (CZE) 30 pts, 3. Matthias Dolderer (GER) 23 pts, 4. Petr Kopfstein (CZE) 17 pts, 5. Pete McLeod (CAN) 14 pts, 6. Michael Goulian (USA) 14 pts, 7. Juan Velarde (ESP) 13 pts, 8. Peter Podlunšek (SLO) 12 pts, 9. Kirby Chambliss (USA) 10 pts, 10. Nicolas Ivanoff (FRA) 10 pts, 11. Matt Hall (AUS) 8 pts, 12. Cristian Bolton (CHI) 4 pts, 13. Mikaël Brageot (FRA) 4 pts, 14. François Le Vot (FRA) 3 pts
Hot favourites Fohood Zabeel went down to a 3-2 defeat to Al Hazem to blow the volleyball competition at the Nad Al Sheba Ramadan Sports Tournament wide open.
The result on Tuesday leaves Surprise Team as the lone side with an unbeaten record.
With the Brazilian pair of Kaio Fabio Alves and Vinicius Alessandro Santos alongside Ismail Ibrahim Murad Shahdad from the Comoros in their line-up, Fohood Zabeel have looked strong this year.
But Al Hazem played to their game plan perfectly at the Nad Al Sheba Sports Complex and won a thrilling contest having gone a set down early on. They came back from that 20-25 defeat to win the next two 25-16 and 25-23 before Zabeel took it to a decider with a 25-20 win in the fourth to tie the game at 2-2. It was nailbiting finale with Hazem edging it 17-15 to throw Group A wide open.
Surprise are at the top of the standings with five points following two wins. Zabeel are second with four, while Hazem are in hot pursuit in third with three points.
The encounter between Surprise and Zabeel will decide which of the two teams make it to the semi-finals.
Meanwhile, the padel competition continued with Sandy Farquharson and Javier Lopez staying on track to defend their open category title with an effortless 6-0, 6-2 win over Ignacio Valenzuela and Juan De Dios.