AZZAM RETURNS FOR SWS SENIOR CUP VICTORY
Schmitz tops Masters and a maiden SWS Junior Cup win for Al Rifai
Dubai, UAE, 7 November 2017: Veteran racer Rami Azzam returned to the Sodi World Series (SWS) grid at the Dubai Kartdrome on Monday night (6 November) and clinched his first victory since July.
Juergen Schmitz earned a commanding class triumph in Masters, and Federico Al Rifai withstood a close fight to stand on the top step of the SWS Junior Cup podium for the first time in his career.
SWS Senior Cup & Masters
Rami Azzam took several months off from the SWS Sprint Series in order to train for the IAME X30 Challenge, but on his return to Dubai Kartdrome he got right back to winning ways.
Ahmed Al Hammadi was quickest early on, topping qualifying screens with a best lap time of 1:11.895, the only driver out of 30 to dip below the 1.12.00 mark.
The pole sitter had a tough time of it in heat one though, as he was passed by both Anjum Shaikh and Azzam. Shaikh took control and crossed the finish line 1.345 seconds ahead of Azzam to claim heat one. Al Hammadi trailed in for third place.
Heat two was a chaotic brawl in which a different leader emerged on nearly every lap. Romaldo Labrooy took advantage of the frontrunner conflicts by sliding past for the win, with Azzam again rolling in for second place and Maz Nawaz taking third.
After the points of the two heats were totalled, the consistent second place finishes by Rami Azzam earned him 72 points and enough for the SWS Senior victory. Anjum Shaikh was close behind on 70 points, giving him the second-place trophy. Romaldo Labrooy claimed third-place with 67 points.
Azzam was satisfied with the triumph but felt he could have done better. He remarked, “Two second places, enough for the win. I would’ve liked to get a win on the night, but it wasn’t so bad.”
“To come back and get straight up to the top step, I’m very happy.” He added.
In the Masters category, for drivers 35 years and older, Juergen Schmitz struggled in qualifying, starting all the way down in 27th place on the grid, but then quickly redeemed himself with two class wins.
Schmitz topped Masters on 38 points, with Ian Debattista taking second-place with 28 points. Hamid Morcos nabbed third on 23 points.
SWS Junior Cup
Federico Al Rifai had been training hard to improve his position in the last few rounds and his efforts finally paid off with his first SWS Junior Cup victory on Monday night.
The winner of the last SWS Junior Cup round, Patrick Debattista, was the early favourite, clocking in a best qualifying lap of 1:20.000 to take pole position by 0.613 seconds over Al Rifai.
After that it was Al Rifai who had the race pace, taking the chequered flag in heat one by just 0.232 seconds ahead of Debattista, with Alex Wareing claiming third. Wareing stormed back to win heat two by a full 2.774 seconds over Kyle Kumaran, with this time Al Rifai in third place.
When the points of the two heats were tallied, Federico Al Rifai and Alex Wareing were tied with 73 points each. Al Rifai’s superior qualifying time broke the stalemate and sent him to the top step of podium for the first time, with Wareing having to settle for second-place silverware. Debattista took home the third-place trophy on 67 points.
Al Rifai was happy with his improved driving. After the race he said, “I feel like every day I’m getting better.”
Article & Photos: Aaron Meriwether