5 September 2011
Emirati driver Humaid Al Masaood and Briton Steven Kane won their first American Le Mans Series race at the Baltimore Grand Prix, on Sunday, in their #20 Oryx Dyson Racing entry. Chris Dyson and Guy Smith finished second in the #16 G-OIL ModSpace/Construct Corps Lola Mazda, giving Dyson Racing their first one-two finish since the 2005 Mid-Ohio race, and providing an appropriate bookend to their one-two qualifying effort.
Al Masaood has his racing roots firmly in the UAE, particularly at Dubai Autodrome where he has raced a variety of categories. A familiar and popular figure in the paddock, Al Masaood has had his efforts rewarded with this success in the USA. The victory should be a catalyst to inspire more UAE drivers and sponsors to aim for success on the international stage while using local racing as a ladder to to the the global motorsport scene.
“I know it is a cliché, but this is still sinking in,” commented Al Masaood after the race. “This is our fifth
race in the ALMS with Dyson Racing and it has been an unbelievable experience. The win today shows our shared values and commitment and solidifies our good future.”
“This feels unreal to get this win in such a short period of time,” remarked Kane. “Everyone has done such a fantastic job. You know, as soon as I first drove with Humaid, I knew he had something special. I told him from the very beginning that he could take it to the top and race at the highest levels.”
“You look at the way Humaid and Steven have been driving, and it has enhanced our overall effort,” said team boss Dyson. “To have two cars running this well is not an easy task. The victory podium photos always show the drivers, but in truth, it is Mazda, G-OIL, ModSpace, Dunlop and AER who should be spraying and enjoying the champagne.”
“It was amazing, the challenge of driving on a street circuit,” 30-year-old Al Masaood told The National. “We’ve heard there were 80-90,000 people watching, so that’s comparable to some Formula One. I’m feeling relieved, but even now it hasn’t sunk in fully. It’s all happened very quickly, there’s a lot going on after a race so it’ll take a little time yet.”
“It was amazing, the challenge of driving on a street circuit. We’ve heard there were 80-90,000 people watching, so that’s comparable to some Formula One,” reflected Al Masaood.
“The next races, at the Laguna Seca [in Monterey, California] and then Road Atlanta, are two big ones of six and 10 hours,” Al Masaood said. “In Atlanta there will be European teams flying in, so it will be a big challenge. Our car may not be as fast as some others, but that is not the most important thing.”
“We had some mishaps in the last two races, but to win here and with [the other] podium finishes, we’ve done much better than we thought,” he said. “We’re trying to develop a name, to generate sponsorship opportunities and position ourselves at the highest level of racing.”
Al Masaood began his motorsport career racing at Dubai Autodrome in the 2008/2009 UAE Radical Championship. After impressive performances in the Dunlop 24-hour a Dubai Autodrome in January this year, where he met Kane and the pair decided to tackle the ultra-competitive American Le Mans series (ALMS) in the USA.
“It has been a lifelong thing for me,” Al Masaood. “It’s not always been the right situation and the timing has not been right. I haven’t gone the conventional route of junior driver or karting. But this is the way I have done it, and hopefully I can get ahead. I’m very proud of what it means for the UAE. It’s a big day and hopefully more and more people will get involved in the scene now.”
Looking to the future the Emirati said, “We’d like to continue going ahead and we’re looking at the 24-hour Le Mans next year. If not then, then the year after. There is no reason why we cannot do it.”
DAMC manager Richard Birch said, “We at Dubai Autodrome salute and applaud the success of Humaid Al Masaood who has given local motorsport a major boost with his superb achievement. We are also proud that Dubai Autodrome played a role in his career and will continue to develop and nurture racing drivers aspiring to attain motorsport success both locally and internationally.”