Dubai: The 2006 Biland Kart GP World Final started at the Dubai Kartdrome yesterday and will be on till tomorrow.
Organisers expect 45 K-GP1 senior drivers and 25 junior K-GP3 drivers from 15 nations to compete in the three-day event which will feature races for senior drivers in the K-GP1 class and juniors in the K-GP3 class. The race will determine the World Finals Champion and the overall Kart GP Champion.
The organisers provided K-GP1 entrants with identical Biland SA250 / Trulli JT4 karts that were distributed to the drivers yesterday before the the start of practice. Karts were allocated to drivers on a lottery basis which ensured a level playing field for all contestants.
Thereafter, the programme of racing is intense with four 20-minute sessions today, followed by qualifying at the end of the day.
Race day tomorrow starts with a brief early-morning warm-up, followed by three 13 lap heats for the seniors, 8 lap heats for the juniors.
The results from the three senior heats will determine the drivers who qualify for the pre-final. Those who fail to make the grade will be given another chance in the 13-lap second chance heat.
The 17 lap pre-final (13 laps for juniors) will decide the grid positions for the 25 lap final from which the overall champion will be declared.
The current K-GP1 Champion is Brazilian Joao Goncalves who is expected to make the trip to defend his title in Dubai and starts the event as one of the pre-race favourites.
UAE-based drivers who have qualified for the K-GP1 (seniors) include 2006 lightweight champion Youcef Cummings, former lightweight champion Roy van der Weijden, former heavyweight Champion Chris Wishart and 2006 Heavyweight runner-up Paul Velasco.
Emirates based K-GP3 (juniors) qualifiers include: Sami Abdul Hadi, Woody Sticka, Rached Khairallam, Tom Fisher, Howie Cracknell, Robert Chandler and Scott Latham.
Local pundits are confident that "home" track advantage will be a factor that will favour the Emirates based drivers who are intent on matching their international opponents on their turf.
Past Kart GP events have taken place in 2004 in Braga, Portugal and in 2005 in Sosnova, Czechoslovakia and again in Braga.
For 2006 the Dubai Kartdrome has been selected to stage the prestigious events as it is the most modern and challenging kart facility in the region, while the host city offers a guarantee of warm weather which is elusive most everywhere in the world at this time of the year.
Steve McLintock, director of Kartzone Central, official importer of Biland and Swiss Hutless (Trulli karts) said of the event: "This is a major boost for kart racing across the region. It puts local kart racing on the international map.
"It provides and ideal opportunity for existing and potential local drivers to see the best Biland four stroke karts and drivers in action using the state-of-the-art Trulli chassis."
The Dubai Kartdrome has made upgrades to the venue, including sun shades for spectators and general modifications aimed at enhancing the experience for competitors and spectators alike.
Dubai Kartdrome's David Terrien, who is a member of the organising committee, commented on the event: "I'm very glad we have organised the event, the first FIA/CIK event in the UAE. It is a big boost for the Biland class which is growing rapidly in the local karting scene.
"This event will help develop and help showcase this type of racing at the highest levels. It promises to be one of the best events of it's kind."