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Kartdrome double-header weekend a success

Valenza and Al Qassemi take honours in Max Seniors and Max Masters

Gulf News

Dubai: Day two of the Kartdrome double header weekend, featuring races for the UAE 2012/2013 Rotax Max Challenge and the 2013 SWS Sprint Series for juniors, ended on a high note as bumper fields turned out to do battle for the second day running at Dubai’s premier karting venue.

The Max Seniors class is proving to be the hardest-fought category with a field of 26 drivers, and a number of them capable of taking top honours. There were a quintet of competitors who were always at the sharp end of proceedings yesterday, including the first day’s big winner Alexandre Silanine, along with perennial frontrunners Ameer Hassan Abdullah Al Rawahi, Philippe Valenza and Piers Pakenham-Walsh.

Silanine and Hassan each scored a win apiece in Race 2 and Race 3 respectively, but the day belonged to Valenza. who won Race 1 and then did the business again late in the afternoon to take top spot in the final.

In the Max Masters class, former UAE GT driver Raed Hassan, father of Ameer, took a well-deserved win in the first race, but thereafter the day belonged Walid Al Qassemi, who won the next two heats and then the final, making it six race wins over the two day weekend.

It was a case of déjà vu in the DD2 class as Oliver George, who was unbeaten on the first day, proved to be the man to beat again. As on day one he spent the afternoon fending off Saeed Al Mehairi and Mohammad Al Dhaheri, with Al Mehairi taking his first DD2 victory ever in Heat 2.

In the final, Al Mehairi and Al Dhaheri gave it their best shot to unsettle George but it was in vain as he powered to victory, albeit by the margin of 0.381 seconds, over second-placed Al Mehairi while Al Dhaheri was third in 0.701 seconds.

Arnaud Bouf and Patrick Jarjour slugged it out in the DD2 Masters class, each scoring a win apiece on the day but Bouf took top spot in the final. Edward Stanley was third.

Pasqual Pook and Tom Bale were the pace setters in the Max Juniors class throughout the weekend, with very little to separate the pair. But they collided on the first day as they battled for top spot in the final and both went home empty-handed.

On Day 2 they did not make any mistakes. Pook signaled his intent by winning Race 1, which Bale emulated in Race 2, but in Race 3 Taymour Kermashahchi started from pole and upset the script to take an impressive win.

The scene was set for a riveting final, where Bale made a fine start, opening a small gap as he proceeded to control the race. Pook stalked him throughout and got close in the late stages, but Bale had done enough to take the win, with Pook second, the pair making amends for their mishap 24 hours earlier. Kermashahchi crossed the finish line in third.

The win is a timely boost for Bale, who embarks on a serious karting campaign this season, which will see him taking on Europe’s elite young drivers during the course of the year.

If the first day of the double-header belonged to Alain Bauwmans in the Mini Max category, then day two was all about Tehmur Chohan, who spent the previous day playing second fiddle. On the day two he rose to the occasion to post four convincing wins, including victory in the final over Bauwmans, who was second, and Ivan Berets, in third.

In the Micro Max class it was almost the same story for Sem Knopjes, but not quite, as the son of multiple UAE champion Maurits Knopjes stopped on track in the first race, scoring a DNF that saw Amir Dargahi take top spot.

Thereafter Knopjes went on to win all three races including the final, where he finished ahead of Yousuf Moola (son of UAE Touring car champion Aslam Moola) and Ziggy Kermanshanchi, who were second and third respectively.

There are no racing drivers in the world smaller than those who contest the Bambino category, and on the final day at the Kartdrome the youngsters, aged five to seven, competed in two time trial sessions, with the best times accumulated over the two heats. Best time of the day for the Bambino class went to Georgie Zouein, who took top honours ahead of Jamie Day and Saquir Al Qassemi.

One of the fastest growing and increasingly popular forms of the sport at junior level is proving to be the SWS Junior category, the arrive and drive concept pitting drivers from 7 to 14 years of age on the track in special Kartdrome-supplied karts that have additional safety features and are made specifically for beginners.

The racing was close on the day and the support for the young drivers as they battled on track was very vocal as families get involved cheering on the drivers.

Dixon Sewell was runaway winner of Race 1, with Liam Crystal fending off Denis Bahur, as the pair took the chequered flag nose to tail in second and third place respectively. In their wake was a massive battle involving Sebastian Haidan, Eliot Jones, Harrison Barry and Omar Alami, just more than one second separating the quartet as they crossed the finish line.

Race 2 delivered one of the closest race finishes ever recorded at the Kartdrome, with Jones edging the win by 0.112 seconds over Maxime Cimino. The pair crossed the line virtually side-by-side after spending most of the latter part of the race battling it out. Bahar was third again.

After the two days of ‘grassroots’ racing, Kartdrome manager Ryan Trutch said: “Teams and drivers from Bahrain, Qatar and Oman made the journey to take on the UAE’s best kart drivers in the Rotax Max Challenge and the SWS Sprint races. We had close very racing over both days and it is quite clear that karting in the UAE is growing in the right direction. I was particularly pleased to see the enthusiasm and growth in the junior ranks, which is a good sign for the future of the sport.”