MAIDEN VICTORY FOR AL AZHARI IN SWS JUNIOR CUP
Umid Ali and Winter take top honours in SWS Senior Cup
Dubai, UAE, 8 November 2016: For the second race event in a row a newcomer has disrupted the normal balance of power in the Sodi World Series (SWS). Keanu Al Azhari, son of multiple UAE motorsport champion Karim Al Azhari, battled his way past seasoned veterans to claim his first winner’s trophy in the SWS Junior Cup at the Dubai Kartdrome on Monday night (7 November).
During qualifying it was Omar Aswat who set the early pace, nailing a best lap time of 1.20.096 to claim pole position. Keanu’s brother Enzo Al Azhari was second on the grid and reigning Ramadan Challenge Junior Champion, Kamal Agha, was in third.
Kamal’s experience would come in handy during Race One and after the start lights went out he quickly took control of the field. Keanu Al Azhari rocketed from seventh on the grid up into the lead pack along with Seif Al Naggar, who had started in sixth.
After a close campaign Kamal was first across the finish line, just .594 seconds ahead of Keanu, who eclipsed Seif by a meagre .185 seconds.
Al Azhari’s will to win was even greater in Race Two; after a few laps of skirmishing with the frontrunners he broke free of the pack and drove out of reach. Keanu cruised in for the victory, a full 7.266 seconds ahead of his nearest rival, Seif Al Naggar. Omar Aswat trailed close behind for third.
When the points were tallied at the end of the night, Keanu Al Azhari was the undisputed victor for the top step of the podium. Kamal Agha had to settle for a second place trophy, while Seif Al Naggar received third.
Afterwards Keanu said, “It feels great. (In the last race) I looked for a place to get away and I got it. Then I just kept driving.”
The SWS Senior Cup witnessed past winners return to form. Abigail Birch was the first to strike, lighting up the qualifying screens with a best lap of 1:11.137. The next five drivers all qualified within a second of her time.
Birch started on pole for Race One and made it count when the lights went out, controlling the ensuing race and taking the chequered flag. Rami Azzam was the only driver to challenge her, finishing just half a second adrift. Almost three seconds later, Saeed Al Mehairi glided in for third.
For Race Two Abigail was again on pole and, after getting a clean getaway, was in prime position for repeat success. However, this time a small group of determined drivers reeled her in and she lost grip on the lead.
The trailblazing pack ran bumper to bumper, all seasoned competitors. Hussain Umid Ali was in command, followed by Saeed Al Mehairi, Anjum Shaikh, Rami Azzam, Abigail Birch and Ahmed Al Hammadi.
Drivers jostled for a place to pass but the leader could not be shaken. Umid Ali kept in front all the way to the finish line, pipping out Al Mehairi by .087 seconds. Anjum Shaikh was .141 seconds behind for third.
After points were computed, only one point separated each of the podium spots in the SWS Senior Cup. On 71 points Hussain Umid Ali did just enough to take home the first place trophy. Abigail Birch just missed out with 70 points and had to be content with second place silverware. Saeed Al Mehairi secured third with 69 points on the night.
In the Master sub-category of SWS Seniors (ages 35 and older), regular endurance kart racer Carsten Winter was in top form and was rewarded with first place honours. Reigning Ramadan Challenge Master Champion Mohammed Ismail captured second while Gianluca Elmosi finished third on the night.
The next SWS Sprint Series will be on Monday, 21 November at Dubai Kartdrome.