UAE National racing, Ghanem takes his first win of season and closes in on UAE GTC title
Dubai Autodrome, March 11th 2011 – The penultimate round of the Cytech UAE GT Championship will be decided at Yas Marina Circuit at the end of this month after House of Portier Corvettes of Karim Al Azhari/Fabien Giroix and Mohammed Al Mutawaa and Jiri Skula took wins in the GTA and GTB classes respectively, while Lebanese youngster Joe Ghanem took his maiden win in the Ginetta to take the GTC points lead going into the final round.
The Al Azhari/Giroix pairing in the TAM Auto Engineering Corvette were slow off the line, allowing the Bassam Kronfli/Raed Hassan in the MSW Ginetta to get an early lead before Al Azhari reeled them in to take the lead and control the race thereafter. Kronfli and Hassan were second.
In the GTB Class Al Mutawaa/Skula made no mistake in notching up their fifth win of the season ahead of their main title Al Mutawaa’s main title rival Jon Simmonds who finished second in the MSW Porsche which he shared with former Lumina V8 Series champion Tarek Elgammal.
House of Portier team manager Motaz Abu Hijleh said, “We are very close to the title, but there is still work to do in the GTA Class we need to start the race but the goal as always is to go out and win in the final race at Yas Marina. We will be aiming for a double title on the day with Mohammed Al Mutawaa. We had a good day today and have set ourselves up nicely for the climax of this great season for House of Portier and TAM Auto Engineering.”
Joe Ghanem took his maiden win when he took the chequered flag in the GTC class, a result which sees him take command of the championship points battle with one race to go. With points leader Robert Cregan, racing in Australia, Ghanem took advantage to post his first win at Dubai Autodrome.
It was heartache for the Harris Irfan and Paul Denby in the ARM Porsche after apparent brake failure saw the pair retire and their title ambitions go up in smoke in the process.
Ghanem and his team were delighted with the result for the driver who has been runner-up four times this season. He said afterwards, “I am very proud to win here at Dubai Autodrome. It is my first win in my first season in GT racing. Now I have a very good chance to win the championship and that is my goal for the next race. I want to thank my team and sponsors for their support.”
Earlier in the day British superbike ace Scott Smart did the double by winning both UAE Sportbike 1000 Class races on the Liberty Kawasaki, beating Abdulaziz Binladin on the BMW S1000RR on both occasions. Jason Burnside was double winner in the UAE Sportbikes 600 Class.
Rookie Andre Ramdhanny, at the wheel of the MSW Seat, powered to Class 1 victory in the first race of the Total UAE Touring Cars, with Nabil Moutran (Seat) in second and Khalid Bin Hadher (Seat) taking third. The latter led most of the way until a fuel starvation problem hampered his progress.
Briton Martin Johnson dominated Class 2 for the second time in two weeks, beating Honda drivers Rupesh Channake and championship points leader Umair Khan in the Lap 57 car.
AUH Radical driver Sean Stevens took two wins in the UAE Sportscar Championship races with Juma Al Dhaheri runner-up on both occasions.