Total UAE Touring Cars and NGK UAE GT Championship at Yas Marina Circuit
On Friday, 23 March 2012, Yas Marina Circuit hosts the penultimate round of the Total UAE Touring Car Championship and the last round of the UAE GT Championship – both categories will run together in the two race sprint format on the day.
It is now crunch time in the Total UAE Touring Cars championship battle in Class 1 with Nader Zuhour targeting his first UAE championship win, with his chief rival Costas Papantonis looking to add a second UAE title trophy to his mantelpiece.
Zuhour, driving the NFS Racing prepared SEAT, has three wins to his credit having scored in every round and currently leads the standings by nine points.
“I have been driving with an eye on the championship, but at the same trying to take each race one at a time. The championship looks like it will go the whole distance with the Yas round being very important, but the final at Dubai Autodrome next month has double points up for grabs. So anything can happen,” said Zuhour
Fujeirah based Papantonis, campaigning the Gulf Petrochem backed SEAT, has won four times but one non-points scoring round was a setback for his campaign. But going into the Yas Marina round the former champion will be boosted by the fact that last time out at he won back-to-back races.
Papantonis does not mind doing the chasing, “It has been a tough battle for the whole year and will continue to be until the very last race. We are focused on what has to be done and the goal as usual is to win every race.”
Also set to make a return to the Class 1 fray is former champion Mohammad Al Owais in the Emirates Racing Team SEAT, who has tasted victory twice so far this season but has not campaigned regularly. However he will be a race win contender, and more than likely to be the cat among the pigeons on Friday.
Lap57 Honda driver Umair Khan is cruising to his third Total UAE Touring Car Championship – with a 45 points lead in Class 2 over his closest active rival – the least he has to do is finish each of the remaining four races to triumph again in a category he has come to dominate. Nevertheless Khan is unlikely to be in cruise mode and will no doubt be going all out to add to his tally of nine wins and extend a victory streak of seven race wins in a row.
His Lap57 Honda teammate Rupesh Channake is most likely to challenge him for top honours, along with Jonathan Mullan in the GNSS Racing Honda and the Gulf Petrochem Renault Clio pair – brothers Constantinos and Alexandros Annivas.
A small field will line up on the grid for the final round of the NGK UAE GT Championsip, which will run in the touring car race. Rafael Unzurrunzaga should be the man to beat in his Blue Jumeirah Team Mosler, being chased by John Iossofidis and Martin Baerschmidt sharing an Aston Martin Vantage and the Ray Bignell and Graeme Hannah doing duty in the EMAL Racing Porsche.
Also on the bill on Friday, will be races for: UAE Radical Cup, Maserati Trofeo JBF and Formula Gulf 1000. Racing starts at 11.20am on the North Circuit configuration of Yas Marina Circuit.