Umid Ali wins SWS Senior Cup race night
Maiden SWS Junior Cup victory for Renner
Dubai, UAE, 7 February 2017: After a hard fought contest Hussain Umid Ali notched up another Sodi World Series (SWS) Senior win, Heiki Eelma returned to domination in the Masters category, Abigail Birch set a new lap record and Alexander Renner earned his first SWS Junior Cup victory at the Dubai Kartdrome on Monday night (6 February).
Veteran competitors delivered a spectacle of racing on the 1.2 kilometre outdoor circuit of the Dubai Kartdrome, with the top half of the SWS Senior grid of 29 competitors all locked in fierce battle.
In one of the closest SWS Senior qualifying sessions on record, the best lap times of the top 13 drivers were all within a second of the leader, Hussain Umid Ali, who set the early pace with a best lap time of 1:10.582. Ramez Azzam was a sliver off the mark, a mere 0.018 seconds behind.
In Race One it was another Azzam, his brother Rami, who jumped from third on the grid to take control of an aggressive field of karts. Rami Azzam held off all contenders and took the chequered flag 1.664 seconds ahead of Ramez. Hussain Umid Ali was close behind for third.
The contest was even closer in Race Two, with the top four drivers—the Azzam brothers, Umid Ali and Abigail Birch—all jostling for the lead. Hussain Umid Ali emerged from the pack and took the win over Ramez Azzam by only 0.212 seconds. Rami Azzam got past Abigail Birch by just 0.011 seconds to take third.
The final points were tallied amid an atmosphere of anxiety, as the top drivers knew it would be a close finish. When the totals were computed Hussain Umid Ali and Rami Azzam were equal on 73 points each.
In cases of a tie the qualifying results are then taken into account, with Umid Ali’s top qualifying finish undermining Azzam’s third place result. Hussain walked away with the winner’s trophy, while Rami settled for second place silverware and his brother claimed third on 72 points for the night.
Pleased with the close competition Hussain Umid Ali said, “With experienced drivers we are racing very nice, and on the last lap we are trying to overtake each other and it’s really fun.”
In fourth place Abigail Birch just missed out on the SWS Senior podium, but she did walk away with the honour of having set a new SWS lap record at Dubai Kartdrome. Birch broke the 1:10 barrier, clocking in an astonishing lap time of 1:09.562 in Race Two.
In the Masters category, for SWS Senior drivers 35 years or older, Heiki Eelma returned to the top step of podium, with Damian Hehir taking second.
In the SWS Junior Cup Kyle Kumaran topped qualifying screens early on with a best lap of 1:19.569, one of only three drivers to dip below the 1:20 mark. Alexander Renner was right behind with a second place finish that would prove vital to his podium chances later on.
In Race One Keanu Al Azhari continued his winning ways from the last round, this time taking a narrow victory over Renner by just 0.513 seconds. Kyle Kumaran was also right in the mix, seizing third by less than a second behind the leaders.
Renner turned the tables in Race Two, patiently stalking Al Azhari for a few laps before getting a pass and nabbing the lead. Alexander then opened up a gap and sailed home for the win, 3.082 seconds clear of Keanu, while brother Enzo Al Azhari claimed third.
When the final points were counted, there would be yet another tie for first place; Alexander Renner and Keanu Al Azhari were equal on 76 points each.
Qualifying results were taken into account and Renner’s second place pipped out Al Azhari’s fourth place result. Renner took top honours for the night with Al Azhari settling for a well-fought second place trophy. Kyle Kumaran accumulated 64 points on the night and collected third place.
On his first SWS Junior victory Alexander Renner remarked, “(Previously) I’ve been in second and third. It feels great to be on the top step.”
Report & Photos: Aaron Meriwether