UAE National raceday: Make or break for National Championship titles as competitors fight for valuable points
7 March, 2011– With the UAE National Race Day Series entering the final quarter of the season, championships are now up for grabs and the calculators are out doing the points maths. This weekend (Friday, 11 March) sees the running of the penultimate round of the Cytech UAE GT Championship, The UAE Sportscars and the UAE Sportbikes, while the Total UAE Touring Cars have three rounds left on their schedule.
Cytech UAE GT Championship: Decisive weekend
In the premier Cytech UAE GT Championship the House of Portier pair of Corvettes have consolidated the lead in the title chase in both the GTA Class and the GTB Class. The TAM Auto Engineering prepared cars did the double last time out. The GTA car in the hands of Karim Al Azhari and Fabien Giroix took top honours and overall victory while their younger team mates Mohammed Al Mutawaa and Jiri Skula did the business in the GTB Class.
Raed Hassan and Bassam Kronfli, who have emerged as the next best in the GTA Class this season in their MSW prepped Ginetta, know that nothing short of two wins in the final two rounds will be required to cause an upset. Knowing them, they will fight to the very end.
Also in the MSW stable is the Porsche driven by team boss Jon Simmonds and Phil Quaife who are battling for GTB honours. The pair were afflicted by tyre problems in the last round and will be looking to bounce back in the final two races. They have won twice this season and clearly know the route to the chequered flag.
All eyes will be on the battle for GTC Class honours which was blown wide open with championship points leader Robert Cregan failing to finish due to brake problems and racing commitments in Australia with the V8 Fujitsu series; he will not be present at this weekend’s round.
This has allowed potential title winners Joe Ghanem (Ginetta) and ARM Porsche campaigners Paul Denby and Harris Irfan to close the points gap and ensuring that this one goes down to the wire.
No doubt all races in a championship are important, but at this stage of the game this penultimate race of the Cytech UAE GT Championship is of major importance as it is likely to reveal which titles will be decided at the very last race of this season.
Total UAE Touring Cars: Bin Hadher and Khan closing in on the titles
With eight Class 1 race wins to his credit, Khaled Bin Hadher has been the revelation of the 2011 Total UAE Touring Car Championship in his SEAT. The Emirati has been the man to beat and, in truth, few have managed to do so this year, although last time out Ramzi Moutran managed to break the dominance with two wins in his SEAT.
Nevertheless Bin Hadher’s points lead at the top of the table is formidable and it will take a massive effort by his closest rivals, fellow SEAT pilots, Nader Zuhour and Andre Ramdhanny to reverse the trend.
Lap 57 Honda driver Umair Khan looks set for back-to-back titles as he too has been the main man in the Class 2 title chase, where in ten races he has been five times in top spot and the other five times on the second step of the podium.
With six scoring rounds left in the championship Spencer Vanderpal in the a2b Honda remains a threat to Khan. Vanderpal has three victories to his credit and will be looking to end the season on a high.
Rupesh Channake, also in a Honda, is the only other driver to win in this highly competitive category, with two victories to his name, and can be counted on to be the spanner in the works.
Last time out British Touring Car Championship campaigner Martin Johnson made a big impression in his debut at Dubai Autodrome taking two Class 1 wins on the day, driving a Vauxhall run by the newly formed Phoenix Racing. Johnson does not qualify for points but that does not stop him from wanting to take home the silverware.
UAE Sportscars: Grogor looks set for the crown again
Jordan Grogor is all set to become the inaugural UAE Sportscar Champion with AUH Motorsports Radical. His main challengers, Jassim Al Shamsi and Bassam Kronfli, have abandoned the series and with six wins to his credit the former Radical Champion is virtually assured of the title even if he does not turn up.
UAE Sportbikes: Binladin and Burnside are the men to beat
Abdulaziz Binladin, riding the BMW S1000RR, has all but stitched up the 2011 UAE Sportbikes Championship 1000 Class title. The final four races a mere formality for the Saudi ace whose closest challenger Daimen van Blerk on the Ducati is over 60 points adrift, although he can expect Kawaski mounted British Superbike regular Scott Smart and team mate Hennie Sauerman to make his life difficult.
Jason Burnside is on a streak on his Mapei Honda having won the last four 600 Class races in a row and is edging towards the title with Yas Marina Triumph mounted Alan Boyter keeping him in check, albeit 26 points adrift. His team mate Mahmoud Tannir has been runner-up on the past four occasions and an inter team battle for runner-up spot in the championship is in the making.
On race day, Friday 11 March, qualifying starts at 8.30am with the first main race scheduled to start after prayer break at 13.00pm on the National Circuit configuration of Dubai Autodrome. Entry for spectators is free to both the grandstand and paddock, where food and refreshments are available throughout the day.