Round 1, Kartdrome at Dubai Autodrome
The first round of the UAE Karting Championship, under the patronage of HH Sheikh Marwan Bin Rashid Al Mualla took place under floodlights at the Kartdrome at Dubai Autodrome on Friday night. The feature race of the event was the combined TAG class which boasted a large and competitive field. Surprise inclusion on the grid was former UAE Karting Champion Roy van der Weyden making another return to the top tier of UAE karting and by the end of the night, where he had to count on all his experience and a little luck, it was he who took top honours in the TAG final
Reigning champion (who ironically has yet to win a national race) Tim Murdoch made clear his intentions from the outset of qualifying where he claimed pole position by half a second from Rami Azzam with Fadi El Aswad in third spot. Weyden was late out on track and only managed the fifth fastest time. Pre-race favourite Shaikh Hasher Maktoum did not manage a single lap in qualifying due to a broken accelerator cable which rendered him to the tail end of the grid and meant a night of hard work to get back to the sharp end of the field.
At the front it stayed much the same throughout the two heats with Murdoch simply out pacing everyone, notching two heat wins and pole position for the final. Hasher Maktoum and Weyden improved their positions and would line-up second and third respectively. Azzam, who was mixing it at the front of the field, fell out of contention when his race seat broke, despite it being welded for the final the repair did not last ending his ambitions of a podium.
When the flag dropped for the final Murdoch was again the pace setter and within a few laps had a cushion over his closest rivals who were battling it out together, albeit a couple of seconds behind the leader. Weyden, Hasher Maktoum, Adam Reeve and Howard Cracknell were slinging it out in a no holds barred contest. A spectator summed it up when he commented, â€œLooks like a war out there. Plenty pushing and shoving.â€? Thus is the nature of karting: wheel to wheel racing, tremendous skill and calling on the canniest ability of drivers. All this compounded by the added challenge of night racing.
By the half way stage the order seemed set with Murdoch leading comfortably from Weyden, Hasher Maktoum, Reeve and Cracknell. With two laps to go Murdoch was out â€“ that first win eluding him yet again in the cruelest of circumstances – a broken chain. The mishap gifted Weyden the lead where he stayed to claim victory over Hasher Maktoum in second and Reeve claiming the final podium spot.
The TAG Heavy class, which ran in conjunction with the Light class, was won by ever popular John Mace who despite being the oldest driver in the field, â€œSixty somethingâ€? he once revealed – a fact that hardly deterred him on his way to victory over Fadi El Aswad. The latter showed impressive pace by leading the entire TAG field (in a heavier kart) and mixing it with the TAG Light pace setters. He felt he was victim of some over enthusiastic opponents who caused him to go off track in the decisive second heat which rendered him to the back end of the start grid for the final. He comments, â€œAfter making my way through the back of the pack in the final I set my sights on John (Mace) but he was too far ahead.â€? Ian Prestwich finished third.
The Max Junior class featured an unexpectedly small field. Neverthless this did not deter Joe Morritt who stamped his authority on proceedings by pipping Robert Chandler to pole then going on to white wash his opponents with a hat trick of wins on the night â€“ both heats and the final. Elliot Patrick took second in the finale after a race long duel with Grace Brownlee who finished third.
The Cadet class promises to be a season long battle between three youngsters all capable of taking top honours on their day. Riccardo Curatola, Tom Bale and Patrick Schoeller set the pace throughout the evening. Bale winning heat one, Curtatola retaliating to take heat two and debutant Schoeller doing the business in the final after a race long duel between the trio. Curatola led for most of the race with Bale snapping at his heals and Schoeller playing the watch and wait game. On the final lap, the inevitable occurred, Bale and Curatola touched and spun giving the Schoeller the opportunity he needed to steal the lead and take the chequered flag. Curatola salvaged second place with Bale taking third.
The UAE Karting Championship is sanctioned by the ATCUAE and under the auspices of EMSF.
Round 1 UAE Karting Championship Results
TAG Class (Combined)
1. Roy van der Weyden
2. Hasher Maktoum
3. Adam Reeve
4. Howard Cracknell
5. Maurits Knopjes
6. Saeed Al Shamsi
7. John Mace (H)
8. Fadi El Aswad (H)
9. Ian Prestwich (H)
10. Hannes Waimer (H)
H denotes (TAG Heavy Class)
Junior Max Class
1. Joe Morritt
2. Elliott Patrick
3. Grace Brownlee
1. Patrick Schoeller
2. Riccardo Curatola
3. Tom Bale