Dubai, UAE, 22 May 2018: The 2018 Ramadan Challenge opened the first round of the championship with maximum grids at Dubai Kartdrome on Monday night (21 May), with Romaldo Labrooy, Atef Al Barwani and Patrick Debattista all taking home the winners trophies for Round One.
Dubai Kartdrome Manager David Bright said, “For 2018 we expanded the races from two to three each round and we added partial reverse grids for the last two heats, mixing up the competition and really highlighting driver skill.”
“In addition, our tremendous sponsors Energy Karts Dubai, Brand Racing, IAME X30 Engines and Sun Divers have all contributed great prizes for the winners, attracting a very talented grid of drivers.”
Ramadan Challenge Senior Cup & Masters
Romaldo Labrooy nabbed his first Sodi World Series (SWS) victory of the year and it was a significant win, claiming the first round in his bid for the Senior Cup championship in the Ramadan Challenge.
In qualifying Labrooy topped a hefty field of 34 karts, taking pole position with a best lap time of 1:11.979, the only driver to break the 1:12 barrier.
Labrooy then went on to take two races in row, one win over Ramez Azzam by 0.124 seconds and another win over Ahmed Al Hammadi by just 0.088 seconds. Bernd Romischer surprised the regular contenders with a victory in heat three, taking the chequered flag by a comfortable 2.680 seconds ahead of Anjum Shaikh.
After the final points of all three heats were calculated, Romaldo Labrooy took top honours with 131 points on the night. Ahmed Al Hammadi was close behind to take second-place with 127 points and Bernd Romischer collected third-place on 124 points.
In the Masters category, for drivers 35 years or older, the odds-on favourite, Atef Al Barwani, did not disappoint. He was the top Masters qualifier and he dominated in all three heats.
Al Barwani earned the class win with a total of 103 points. Mohammed Ismail, who is aiming to bag his third Ramadan Challenge Masters title in a row, had to settle for second-place on 92 points. Paul David Sebright rounded out the Masters podium with 66 points and third-place.
Ramadan Challenge Junior Cup
Patrick Debattista is preparing for the SWS World Finals in June, and the young driver has been in fine form this year. He is one of the favourites to take the Ramadan Challenge Junior title, and he wasted no time in staking his claim.
Debattista topped qualifying screens with a best lap time of 1:19.704, edging out arch rival Federico Al Rifai by just 0.032 seconds. Both drivers were the only two to dip below the 1:20 mark in qualifying.
Debattista and Al Rifai resumed their battle in the next two heats, with Debattista managing to stay ahead each time and win two races. Heat three belonged to James Swindells, winning out over Khalifa Al Qubaisi by 1.780 seconds.
When the points of all three heats were tallied, Patrick Debattista won Round One of the Junior Cup with a total of 134 points on the night. Consistent top three finishes earned Khalifa Al Qubaisi second-place with 127 points. Federico Al Rifai claimed third on 122 points.
Prizes to be Awarded
Energy Karts Dubai, Brand Racing, IAME X30 Engines and Sun Divers have all joined in support of this year’s series to provide a host of prizes at the end of the four rounds (11 June 2018).
Senior Cup & Masters prizes include: a one-day sponsored drive in the Rotax Max Challenge with Brand Racing, dive courses and merchandise from Sun Divers, free test sessions for IAME Racing Engines, a Formula DXB experience at Dubai Autodrome and variety of Dubai Kartdrome merchandise.
Junior Cup prizes include: a one-day sponsored drive in the Rotax Max Challenge or IAME X30 Challenge with Energy Karts Dubai, introductory scuba courses and merchandise from Sun Divers, free test sessions for IAME Racing Engines, a complimentary ARKS test from Dubai Kartdrome and variety of Dubai Kartdrome merchandise.
Round Two of the Ramadan Challenge will be held on Monday night, 28 May 2018 at Dubai Kartdrome.
Report & Photos: Aaron Meriwether