UAE National Racing: Round seven preview at Dubai Autodrome
It has been some time since all of the main UAE national road racing series featured on the same race day. On Friday, 25 February fans can look forward to a full bill including Cytech UAE GT, Total UAE Touring Cars, UAE Sportbikes and UAE Sportcars all doing battle during the course of the day on the International circuit configuration at Dubai Autodrome.
Cytech UAE GT: Who can stop the Corvettes?
It was a dominant performance in the last round at Yas Marina where the TAM Auto Engineering prepared House of Portier Corvettes did the double with the Karim Al Azhari/ Fabien Giroix car taking the chequered flag for overall victory and GTA class honours, while their “bambino” team mates Mohammed Al Mutawaa/ Jiri Skula were victorious in the GTB Class of the Cytech UAE GT race.
In the GTA Class their biggest rivals should be the Bassam Kronfli and Raed Hassan pairing at the wheel of the MSW prepped Ginetta, who have tasted victory once this year, as has Julian Griffin who is always a threat provided the NFS Racing Dodge Viper makes it to the end.
Al Mutawaa heads the GTB championship standings with three wins to his credit but has Jon Simmonds big in his mirrors in the MSW Porsche, who he shares with Phil Quaife to good effect. The pair have had some bad luck come their way but have shown their capabilities with two wins and a couple of second places this season. This battle is going down to the wire.
Saad Salman scored a popular and sensational GTC Class win in the AUH Motorsport prepared KTM X-Bow on a track that clearly suited his car. He will be keen for a repeat this weekend but faces a huge task to overcome the might of the Maserati team who will relish racing on the international circuit where their cars can stretch their legs.
Robert Cregan leads the title chase in his Maserati and has a strong lead with three rounds remaining. He will be the man to beat, and if anyone can overcome the Abu Dhabi based Irishman it will be the ARM Porsche of Harris Irfan and Paul Denby. The two scored a class win in round two and will be looking for a late flurry of good results to keep Cregan in check.
Total UAE Touring Cars: Championship points leaders need to be reigned in.
Khalid Bin Hadher in his SEAT Cupra has pulled out an impressive lead in Class 1 of the Total UAE Touring Car Championship. He has been in top form all year with six victories to his credit and, unless his rivals get going, he looks set to take the title.
Best of the rest so far has been Nader Zuhour in his SEAT Supercopa who has yet to win a race this year but has had four runner-up finishes which has kept him in the hunt.
Rookie Andre Ramdhanny in the MSW SEAT has had a character building first season, by his own admission “a steep learning curve” which nevertheless saw him take two wins to date and if anyone can seriously challenge Bin Hadher’s dominance it will be the driver in the yellow and green car.
Lap 57 Honda driver Umair Khan has also built up a comfortable points tally in Class 2 of the Total UAE Touring Car Championship finishing all eight races so far either on the top step of the podium or on the second step – four times apiece.
Former tin top champion Spencer Vanderpal in the a2b Honda has been the man most likely to challenge Khan for top spot, but missing out on round four late last year saw Khan dig deep and take 20 points while Vanderpal was absent. With three wins under his belt Vanderpal needs to take the fight to Khan if he has any hopes of challenging for the title, keeping in mind that there are still eight rounds to go in the series.
No one but the abovementioned duo have taken victory in the class so far this year, but there are several drivers capable of snatching victory on the day including: Oliver Grimm (NFS Racing Renault), Rupesh Channake (Lap 57 Honda), Jason O’Keefe (Honda Civic), Zlatko Mulabegovic (Honda) and Essa Bin Hadher (Honda).
UAE Sportbikes: Business as usual for the two wheel brigade
Saudi ace Abdulaziz Binladen on a BMW S1000RR has been unbeatable and unchallenged in the 1000 Class of the UAE Sportbike Championship. Saudi ace Abdulaziz Binladen on a BMW S1000RR has been unbeatable and unchallenged in the 1000 Class of the UAE Sportbike Championship, but this time around he faces a true test as Kawasaki have drafted UK ace Scott Smart to challenge Binladin, fireworks expected.
Jason Burnside on the Team Mapei Honda has become the man to beat in the 600 Class of the UAE Sportbike Championship and will be on a high after scoring a double win last time out in January.
His closest rivals are likely to be the Yas Marina Triumph duo of Mahmoud Tannir and Alan Boyter and Joe Oxley on a Kawasaki.
UAE Sportscars: Grogor could wrap up back-to-back titles this weekend
AUH Motorsport driver Jordan Grogor, at the wheel of a Radical SR3, looks set to be crowned the inaugural UAE Sportscar Champion this Friday. The Dubai based South African has had an impressive run all year winning six races and finishing second on four occasions in ten outings this year.
NFS Racing have campaigned their striking Juno on occasions and are capable of upsetting the form book, while the likes of Bob George and Jassim Al Shamsi could steal Jordan’s thunder. But in truth a second title for Jordan to be clinched on Friday looks like a foregone conclusion.
The seventh UAE national race day at Dubai Autodrome on Friday, 25 February starts at 9.00 am with qualifying for UAE Sportscars, with the first race of the day starting at 13.00pm. The Cytech UAE GT race will run as a one hour enduro with mandatory pit stops and optional driver swaps, while there will be two ten lap races for Sportbikes, Touring Cars and Sportscars.
Entry for race fans is free.