Dubai: After a series of previous appearances on the lower steps of the podium, Ahmad Al Hammadi finally secured the top spot with a convincing win in the Sodi World Series (SWS) race night at the Dubai Kartdrome on Monday.
Veteran racer Carsten Winter returned to the podium with a Masters triumph, denying Mohammad Esmail a third consecutive victory.
A special race format was introduced for the evening, which included two, point-scoring heats followed by a winner-take-all final race.
Coming off a win from the last round, Rami Azzam continued his domination, topping the grid of 30 racers with a best qualifying lap time of 1:11.892, clipping Allen Khoury’s best time by only 0.033 seconds. The pole sitter got a clean start in heat one and managed to fend off challenges from his rivals.
Khoury dropped back, while Romaldo Labrooy moved up from third and Al Hammadi moved up from fourth to challenge for the lead. Azzam held on for the win, crossing the line 0.145 seconds ahead of Labrooy, while Al Hammadi was another 0.117 seconds back to claim third.
Azzam found it more challenging in heat two, as Anjum Shaikh joined the pack of contenders, along with Labrooy and Al Hammadi. The four racers scrapped it out with frequent lead changes, but Azzam fell back to third place while Labrooy went on to take the chequered flag and Shaikh seized second.
Labrooy, Azzam and Shaikh lined up in the first three spots on the final grid, with Al Hammadi sitting back in fourth. When the start lights blinked out, 30 karts roared into turn one and chaos ensued. With all to win in the final race, drivers were battling for every corner to gain position. Al Hammadi waited for his chance to pounce on the three drivers ahead.
The Emirati recalled: “I saw everyone fighting, so I took the chance and passed them.”
Once in the lead, Al Hammadi didn’t look back.
He opened up a gap and crossed the finish line a full 3.172 seconds ahead of Azzam, while Khoury moved up from fifth on the grid to secure third place and his first podium appearance.
On getting his first SWS victory, Al Hammadi said: “It was very good. I was very, very lucky today.”
His next goal is to earn enough race points to compete in the SWS World Finals in Paris next year.
In the Masters category of the Senior Cup, for drivers 35 years or older, Mohammad Esmail was targeting a third consecutive class win, but Winter and Atef Al Barwani were ready to challenge him. Multiple SWS senior champion Al Barwani, who recently started racing in the Masters category, has immediately made an impact. He topped qualifying and then went on to take two class wins, but was not fortunate in the final decisive race.
Winter couldn’t catch up with Al Barwani most of the night, but the German driver took advantage of the skirmishes on track to snatch a class victory. Esmail took second place, just missing out on the hat-trick, while Al Barwani had to settle for third.
The next SWS Sprint Series round will take place on August 21 at the Dubai Kartdrome.