Dubai, UAE, 10 October 2018: Ahmed Al Hammadi returned to winning ways with a narrow Senior Cup victory over Ramez Azzam at the Sodi World Series (SWS) Sprint Series round on Monday night (8 October) at Dubai Kartdrome. Atef Al Barwani was perfect in the Masters category and rookie Adam Ben Hadj grabbed his first Junior Cup win.
SWS Senior Cup & Masters
On any given race night Ahmed Al Hammadi is normally one of the top drivers fighting for a win, but the close competition at the Senior Cup level has kept the Emirati off the top step of the podium since March of this year.
With consistent finishing over the night, Al Hammadi reclaimed a win and valuable points in his quest to compete in the SWS World Finals next year.
Al Hammadi was slightly off the pace in qualifying, lining up third on the grid with a best lap that was 0.171 seconds shy of the leader, Ali Al Mansoori, who topped the field of 34 karts with an impressive 57.783 lap time.
The polesitter dropped back to P4 in Race One, which left the door open for veteran drivers Al Hammadi, Ramez Azzam and Maz Nawaz to fight for the lead. Al Hammadi took command and crossed the finish line for the win, just half a second in front of Azzam.
Azzam got the better of Al Hammadi in Race Two, but it was Hussain Umid Ali who moved up from fifth on the grid to pass both drivers and take the win. A full 2.472 seconds behind, Azzam had to settle for another second-place finish, which ended his hopes for victory on the night.
After the points of the two races were tallied, Ahmed Al Hammadi racked up 73 points to grab one-point victory over Ramez Azzam on 72. Hussain Umid Ali was also within touching distance with 70 points, enough to claim third.
In the Masters category of the Senior Cup, Atef Al Barwani continues to demolish the field every time he gets into a kart. The Emirati has won 75% of all Masters races this year and on Monday night he demonstrated, yet again, that the category is firmly in his control.
Atef Al Barwani scored a karting hat-trick, topping the Masters field in qualifying and then coasting in for two class wins by considerable margin. He finished the night on 48 points, well clear of Enrique Gluckmann who placed second with 32. Mahmood Jaafar claimed third on 28 points.
SWS Junior Cup
Adam Ben Hadj seized an upset victory over Federico Al Rifai by the narrowest of margins, announcing his arrival as a true contender in the Junior Cup.
Patrick Debatista topped qualifying early on with a best lap time of 1:03.764, just 0.094 seconds clear of Ben Hadj and 0.250 seconds ahead of Al Rifai. Less than two tenths of second separated Ben Hadj in second-place and Al Rifai in third, which turned out to be a critical gap later in the contest.
The polesitter ran into trouble in Race One, dropping well down the grid order and leaving the battle for the lead between Ben Hadj and Al Rifai. Employing his experience to hold off the rookie, Al Rifai kept his rival at bay and took the chequered flag 0.808 seconds ahead.
Not giving up, Ben Hadj stormed back in Race Two and took control of the pack. He crossed the finish line for the win, leaving Al Rifai to chase just 0.220 seconds behind.
When the final points were tallied, Adam Ben Hadj and Federico Al Rifai were tied on 76 points. Qualifying decided the tiebreaker, and with Adam’s lap time that was 0.156 seconds better than Federico’s, it was enough for Adam to claim his first Junior Cup victory.
After a close contest Federico Al Rifai had to settle for second-place silverware and will have plenty of motivation to improve for the next round. Just clear of the battles up front, Yashish Manohar managed solid drives for the evening and quietly collected 64 points on his way for a third-place finish.
The next round of SWS sprint racing will be on Monday, 29 October at Dubai Kartdrome.
Report: Aaron Meriwether
Photos: CK Designs