Round 11 & 12 Race Report

by Martin on March 14, 2015

The atmosphere was electric as the region’s best young racing drivers assembled in the GulfSport camp for the penultimate event of the Formula Gulf 1000 Championship at Yas Marina Circuit where they would race under lights on Friday evening just like Formula One.¬†With regular driver coach Andy Pardoe unable to make it to the UAE, the drivers were being mentored this weekend by Brazilian pro-driver Tommy Erdos who has competed at the Le Mans 24 Hr no less than thirteen times, not to mention winning both the British GT and Formula Renault Championships! What’s more, Philippe Gautheron, boss of the Campos Racing GP2 team was on hand to evaluate the drivers and series along with Campos race engineer Eugeni Solbes.

IMG 1599 Round 11 & 12 Race Report

Young Kenyan racer Tejas Hirani came to the UAE with a commanding lead in the points, but knew that Campos Racing’s Ahmed Al Ghanim was a serious threat.

Early morning qualifying was to demonstrate the extent of that threat as not only did Al Ghanim claim pole position and with it 5 useful points, but we saw all of the Championship Class drivers post times that were quicker than the lap record set last season by Tom Bale.

Come Race 1 and it was Hirani who managed to get the holeshot from P2 into Turn 1 and lead the race with Al Ghanim and Mashuur BalHejaila in close formation. But on lap 12 BalHejaila stopped just before the last corner bringing out the Safety Car. At the restart it was Al Ghanim who got a great exit from the last turn to drive clean round the outside of Hirani at Turn 1 to take the lead.

IMG 1613 Round 11 & 12 Race Report

But Hirani was having none of it and made a late braking maneuver on the back straight but run wide which allowed Yousuf Al Bader to take second position with Hirani now in 3rd. Al Bader set the fastest lap of the race as he tried in vain to catch Al Ghanim. Young Omani racer AlFaisal Al Zubair who was third fastest in Qualifying practice finished 4th ahead of Masters Class winner Keverne McShine.

Race 2 started under the bright F1 lights and saw Al Ghanim take a commanding lead which he was to hold to take the checkered flag. Hirani had a terrible start and on the first lap was back in 4th place with lots of work to do considering these drivers are now all able to lap within 8 tenths of a second of each other. Yousuf Al Bader took full advantage of his front row start and newly found speed to tuck in behind fellow Kuwaiti Al Ghanim to take a fine second place much to the delight of all their compatriots that had made the journey from Kuwait City to support them.

Hirani managed to slip past Al Faisal Al Zubair for third place, denying the talented 16 year old Omani his last opportunity to get on the podium before he moves on compete in BRDC F4 Championship in the UK. Mashuur Bal Hejaila came home in 5th place clearly off the pace in the spare car after suffering gearbox issues in the previous race. Ever popular driver and rally champion Keverne McShine continued to impress Tommy Erdos with his ability to get on the pace despite not doing any of the practice sessions on the previous day.

IMG 1643 Round 11 & 12 Race Report

So as the boys all flew home the championship points gap had dropped to just 10 points, making for a nail biting finish to the season at the Dubai Autodrome on 3rd April.

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