ROUND ONE VICTORY FOR BATELCO RACING DRAG965 AT DUBAI KARTDROME ENDURANCE CHAMPIONSHIP
Team Emirates tops Corporate Class and Dubai Falcon Racing Team best in Nations Cup
Dubai, UAE, 12 February 2017: After twelve hours and 555 laps of endurance kart racing Batelco Racing Drag965 claimed victory at midnight on Saturday (11 February), winning Round One of the Dubai Kartdrome Endurance Championship. The Emirati squad of Dubai Falcon Racing Team took top honours in the Nations Cup category while Team Emirates secured first place in Corporate Class.
The overall victory on the 1.2 kilometre Reverse International Circuit at Dubai Kartdrome also ensured a Pro Class win for Batelco Racing Drag965, avenging a narrow defeat to CG Racing Pro last year.
Fresh from its 2016 Pro Championship triumph, CG Racing Pro sent a message early on to its rivals that the team was ready to defend its title by topping timing screens in the morning.
Alban Varutti of CG Racing Pro nailed a best qualifying lap time of 1:12.442, just 0.027 seconds ahead of Sheikh Hasher Al Maktoum of Dubai Falcon Racing Team. Batelco Racing Drag965 secured third on the grid and the Russian team of Lukoil Racing Team earned fourth.
In the opening laps CG Racing Pro made good use of pole position and jumped into the lead. However, as time went by, challenges from rivals were relentless and the frontrunner position was soon lost. Batelco, Falcons and Lukoil all snatched a slice of the lead in first half of the race.
Pit strategy came into play by the six hour mark and Batelco Racing Drag965 took control of the pack, followed by Lukoil Racing Team and Bin Drai Karting Team. CG Racing Pro was down in fourth place but it had taken one more pit stop than the karts ahead.
The pit stops eventually evened out with only 30 minutes left to go in the race. CG Racing Pro moved up into second, only 47 seconds behind Batelco Racing Drag965. Bin Drai Karting Team maintained third place while Dubai Falcon Racing Team jumped into fourth over Lukoil Racing Team who dropped to fifth.
Final stint driver Alban Varutti of CG Racing Pro tried to close the gap but Ramez Azzam of Batelco Racing Drag965 kept disciplined and defended the lead. Azzam crossed the line 40.704 seconds ahead of Varutti.
The triumph wrapped up the overall and Pro Class trophies for Batelco Racing Drag965. CG Racing Pro had to settle for second place in both categories and Bin Drai Karting was pleased to go from fifth on the start grid to third place overall and third in Pro Class.
Team Manager of Batelco Racing Drag965, Ali Abbas Hasan, remarked, “Luckily the strategy worked for us and then we really leveraged the strategy we kept for ourselves.”
Regarding the new circuit arrangement this year Hasan said, “It was nice, always challenging, but it is always good to have a different configuration.”
Emirates Karting Club tasted success last year winning the Corporate Class Championship with Fly Emirates 1. Now its partner team, Team Emirates, found success of its own, climbing up from twelfth on the grid to seventh, nabbing a Corporate Class victory.
After twelve hours of racing CG Racing 1 was just 21.238 seconds behind Team Emirates and took second place in Corporate, while Redline Racing, making an incredible run from seventeenth place to ninth, wrapped up third in class.
The UAE racers of Dubai Falcon Racing Team, previous 2015 champs, were dismayed to finish fourth overall but were content to walk away with first place trophies in the Nations Cup category.
Lukoil Racing Team had a promising run early on, even fighting for the overall lead, but by the end of the race the Russians had to settle for fifth overall and second in the Nations Cup. The Indian crew of ZOOM Racing Team moved up to secure third in class.
At the end of the night David Bright of Dubai Kartdrome commented, “Fantastic this weekend. It was very close in qualifying and in the race due to the new fleet of Sodi RX8 karts, making it evenly matched throughout the whole event. It came down to pure driving and pure strategy.”
Report: Aaron Meriwether
Photos: Darren Rycroft