Round 3 & 4 – Race Report

by Martin on December 20, 2015

There were near perfect conditions for Round 3 and 4 of Formula Gulf at the Dubai Autodrome. With 2 days of testing for GT cars for this event the track was very clean and grippy, but cool!

Making their season debut at this event was the UAE’s Haytham Sultan and flying in from Perth, Australia was Jordan Oon. Haytham has been absent from circuit racing for a couple of years so had some catching up to do to get on the pace on the very complex and challenging 5.4km Dubai Autodrome Grand Prix circuit. Jordan had never raced in the UAE here before brings with him a vast amount of racing experience so was expected to be in the pace quickly.

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The weekend started not on track but in the GulfSport Racing awning with the Driver Physical Performance coaches from Optimal Fitness. All the drivers physical performance is monitored over the season, its in fact a very important factor that many neglect in their racing career, but Formula Gulf make sure this is integral to the whole training plan. Heart rate data was later gathered from drivers to analysis their performance and see exactly how hard then work. Results proved to be very interesting with heart rate peaks of 185 bpm, but dropping and rising rapidly over different parts of the track, see those results below.

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So for Qualifying it was expected to be close, and it was! Initially current championship leader Mashhurr Bal Hejaila was setting the pace posting an early 2.01.061, but that was followed immediately by Oon on a 2.00.945. Times of all the drivers were falling and for a short time Omar Gazzaz posted a purple sector 3 times making him the fastest driver on track at that point. But it was Oon and Bal Hejaila that would keep pushing into the 2 minute dead territory with Oon finally taking pole on a 2.00.354, Bal Hejaila 2nd and Denmark’s Cato Poulsen 3rd.

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Race one took place a few hours later and with the competitors effectively split into two groups after qualifying there was going to be some interesting racing.

Off the line it was Bal Hejaila that got the hole-shot into the lead, with Oon close behind. Behind them Gazzaz and Sultan had also moved forward getting great drive away from the lights. However Peroni was quickly back past Sultan with a classic out-braking manoeuvre into turn ten here, the drivers are decelerating from 225kph to just 68 kph in under 100m. But as Peroni and Sultan came out of turn 11 together Sultan quickly dropped back and pulled up at the side of track with a fuel pump issue.

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While this was going on Poulsen had made his way back past Gazzaz for 3rd and Oon was still hot on the chase for the lead behind Bal Hejaila. This would continue for 3 laps while Oon looked for a way past the storming Saudi, and that would eventually come into turn one. Bal Hejaila would stay on the heals of Oon for the remainder of the race but just could not take any advantage from the faultless and fast drive going on in front of him. So, a win for Oon, 2nd for Bal Hejaila and a well earned 3rd for Poulsen.

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So Race 2 rolled around the following day and again it was Oon looking to take another win and that he did from the outset. The difference this time was that Poulsen had made his way past Bal Hejaila for second and was able to hold that until the end. Sultan was holding 4th but being chased by Peroni. Gazzaz was making progress after a first lap spin and had caught and passed Peroni, but while chasing down Sultan had another spin on the exit curb of turn 12.

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So some impressive lap times and racing from all drivers respectively, its expected at the start of the season that rates of improvement for these new drivers vary, but things are starting to get closer.

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Next round will be back at the Yas Marina Circuit on January the 22nd.

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