CG RACING PRO WINS 2016 ENDURANCE CHAMPIONSHIP DRIVEN BY MINI PRO TITLE
Fly Emirates 1 takes Corporate honours while LD secures the Nations Cup
Dubai, UAE, 17 Dubai 2016: At high noon 28 teams lined up on the grid of the outdoor circuit at Dubai Kartdrome on Friday (16 December). 24 hours and 1,132 laps later team CG Racing Pro, comprised of drivers David Terrien, Rami Azzam, Alban Varutti, and Piers Pakenham-Walsh, was crowned as the new champion for the 2016 Endurance Championship Driven By MINI.
The fourth and final round of the championship developed into a titanic battle between two karting heavyweights, CG Racing Pro and Batelco-Drag 965 Racing.
Batelco-Drag 965 Racing came into the contest seeking to win an unprecedented fifth Pro category championship. The Choueiri Group (CG) was hoping to make history of its own by repeating its 2013 achievement of winning all three categories: Pro, Corporate and the Nations Cup.
Batelco-Drag 965 Racing signalled its intent in qualifying by burning up the timing screens with a best lap time of 1:10.797, which would stand as the fastest lap of the weekend. Overall qualifying was so close that the next 16 teams recorded times within a second of the leader.
Racing commenced when the U.A.E. flag was waved and drivers sprinted across the circuit to waiting karts on the grid à la Le Mans starting style. CG Pro Racing got the jump on Batelco-Drag 965 Racing on the opening lap but over the next hour both teams would trade places in the frontrunner position, with Bin Drai Karting Team chasing in third.
As the race progressed into the night Batelco-Drag 965 Racing started to pull away from the pack and take a comfortable lead. At that point the crew members at CG Racing Pro knew they had to alter their plans. With each team required to take at least 24 pit stops and each stop trading in for a new kart, managing time in the pit lane is critical for any crew.
CG Racing Pro Team Captain David Terrien said, “We really didn’t have the pace so we decided to try a different strategy, which dropped us a bit lower in the rankings with some early pit stops, but then we managed to get into a good rhythm.”
By midnight those tactics started to pay off; CG Racing Pro leapfrogged Batelco-Drag 965 and then slowly built up a gap to the rest of the field. The Batelco squad made a push of its own but by morning it was unable to chase down the race leader.
After 24 hours CG Racing Pro was first to the chequered flag, earning the team a top place trophy for the race and also for the 2016 Pro Championship with 175 points. Batelco-Drag 965 had to settle for second place silverware in the race and also the season on 163 points, while the Belgian outfit of Karting Eupen KCE Misanino took third for the day.
Defending 2015 champs Dubai Falcon Racing Team crossed the line in sixth, meriting it just enough points at 122 to secure third place in the Pro championship. Mach1 was seventh on the day and also earned 122 points for the season, however, Dubai Falcon Racing Team won the tie-breaker based on having collected more podiums over the last four rounds.
The fighting was extremely close in the Corporate class. Veteran team Fly Emirates 1 avenged a bitter loss from 2015 when it missed out on the title by finishing 10 seconds behind CG Racing 2 in the final race. On Saturday the tables were turned and it was Fly Emirates 1 taking the class victory for Round Four and securing the 2016 Corporate Championship with 170 points.
CG Racing finished just two points down on 168 while its partner team, CG Academy, nabbed third place in the Corporate class with 141 points.
At one point during the race Fly Emirates 1 was down to CG Racing by almost two laps but the team never gave up hope. During that moment Emirates Teams Manager Redza Jamil recalled, “I told the guys just keep on pushing. You never know what’s going to happen and when an opportunity might show itself—and it did. I’m very proud of the guys. It’s been an amazing season.”
Another perennial team, LD, finally chased down a title as well. The all-Russian outfit made the long flight from Chelyabinsk (Ural Mountains region) to Dubai, for one more attempt at the Nations Cup, and the day certainly presented challenges for the visitors.
LD Captain Dmitry Levin commented, “It is winter in Russia now, so for two months we didn’t practice. Here in Dubai is it very hot and we are very tired!”
The heat and the competition couldn’t stop the Russian drivers though, and LD placed eighth in Round Four, which gave them 175 points and victory in the 2016 Nations Cup over the Indian team of ENOC-NH 8 on 152 points. All-Lebanese CG Racing netted third place on 146.
LD Team Manager Kirill Chebanov added, “We travelled almost 4,000 kilometres here to win. We knew we must win.”
Two special honours were handed out as well. Team Austria received the Newbie Award and the French squad of Team Handy Sport Mixte captured the Spirit of the Event Trophy.
After the trophies were handed out Dubai Kartdrome Manager Ryan Trutch reflected, “We saw an extremely close battle at the top of the leaderboard today. After years of fine-tuning this championship it now puts the onus on teams to steer clear of penalties, play their strategy right and, of course, have fast consistent drivers.”
“Congratulations to the CG teams for taking much of the silverware and well done to Batelco-Drag 965 and Karting Eupen KCE Misanino for fighting to the end. I would also like to thank my team at Dubai Kartdrome for another excellent effort and to MINI for the continued support.” Trutch added.
Round One of the 2017 Endurance Championship Driven By MINI kicks off with a 12 hour endurance race at Dubai Kartdrome on 10-11 February 2017.