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TCR INTERNATIONAL SERIES SPEEDFEST: DAY ONE

TCR International Series
Formula Gulf Academy
UAE Sportbike Championship
Radical Middle East Cup

Dubai, UAE, 17 November 2017:  In addition to qualifying, three race series went into action on Friday at Dubai Autodrome.

TCR International Series

TCR International Series

The season finale in Dubai will be the decider for all three titles on offer in the 2017 TCR International Series.

In the fight for the Drivers’ championship, Leopard Racing’s Jean-Karl Vernay in his Volkswagen Golf GTI took the most out of the previous event in China and regained the lead in the standings with a 21-point margin ahead of M1RA Racing’s Attila Tassi driving a Honda Civic Type-R.  Two other drivers are still in contention: the 2015 and 2016 champion Stefano Comini (Comtoyou Racing) and Tassi’s teammate Roberto Colciago; however, with gaps of 42 and 46 points respectively – when 55 are still at stake – they must both be hoping for a miracle to happen.

With a leading margin of 71 points, M1RA is just one step away from the Teams’ title. Lukoil Craft-Bamboo Racing lies in second position, but because there are only 95 points to be awarded over the last race weekend, the Hong Kong-based outfit’s chances are more theoretical than real.

The battle for the Model of the Year award is much closer, with the Honda Civic currently followed by the Volkswagen Golf GTI with a gap of only 30 points (and 95 at stake).

After two rounds of qualifying in Dubai, it was newcomer Gordon Shedden in his Volkswagen Golf GTI who dug dip and pulled out a monster lap time of 1:27.849 in Q2 to take pole position.  It was a great run for the British driver but, since he is not in championship contention, all eyes will be on second position on the grid, Jean-Karl Vernay, who earned his spot with a best lap time of 1:28.045.

TCR International Series

Championship challenger Comini qualified ninth, while Tassi qualified tenth and Colciago ended up way back in eighteenth.

UAE Sportbike Championship

An epic battle is already taking shape between defending 600cc champ Mahmoud Tannir and long-standing rival Ahmed Almuyini.

Almuyini struck first, grabbing pole position on his Kawasaki ZX6R with a best qualifying lap time of 1:33.023 on the National Circuit, a mere 0.274 seconds ahead of Tannir, riding a Honda CBR600RR.

In Race One, the margin of victory would be even closer, with the Saudi and Lebanese riders side by side for the lead.  On the last lap Almuyini snuck past Tannir to take the chequered flag by a miniscule 0.015 seconds gap.

UAE Sportbike Championship

However, Almuyini’s good fortune didn’t carry over into the second race, and he dropped his bike in the opening lap, leaving Tannir in control for the comfortable class win, crossing the finish line 33.508 seconds clear of Fahad Al Gharbally.

In the 600cc Rookie Class, Federico Fratelli on his Yamaha R6 went two-for-two, taking close victories both times over Angelo Villone, riding a Kawasaki ZX6R.

In the non-championship 1000cc class, Yamaha R1 rider Nasser Al Shaiba scored two category wins, with Vafi Khan on his BMW S1000RR claiming second.

Formula Gulf Academy

Scottish driver James Scott Murphy made a perfect start to the FG1000 season campaign.  He scored a motorsport hat trick, taking pole position in qualifying, and then going on to win the next two races.

Formula Gulf Academy

Kane Shepherd of Thailand was only 0.294 seconds off the qualifying pace of Murphy’s best lap time of 1:22.669, but that was as close as he could get, and he had to settle for second-place in each of the races.

Radical Cup Middle East

Dream Racing Dubai’s Jani Hjerppe appears to be back in form and ready to defend his 2016-2017 title with a decisive win in Friday’s 45-minute endurance race.

Hjerppe, the “Flying Finn”, put on a masterclass performance in his Radical SR3, trouncing the field and taking the race victory by 36.717 seconds over the AUH Motorsports duo of Richard Ardolino and Eric Zimmermann.

Radical Middle East Cup

Another Dream Racing Radical, piloted by Tarek Elgammal and Mark Stoleson, took the third step on the podium.

Track action resumes on Saturday with qualifying at 9:20am and racing will conclude by 5pm. Public entry into the Dubai Autodrome Grandstand and Race Paddock is free.

TCR Edit: Aaron Meriwether
Other Series Article: Aaron Meriwether
Photos: Darren Rycroft

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