Total UAE Touring Cars: Khan and Annivas wrap up 2011/2012 title and Zuhour takes a step closer
“Mission accomplished,” declared Umair Khan after he won both races in Class 2 of the Total UAE Touring Car Championship at Yas Marina Circuit today (Friday, 23 March) and thus claiming his third consecutive Total UAE Touring Car Championship title in as many years.
The Lap57 Honda driver was calm and serene after a productive day on track, adding, “It really was a very good day, but more than that it has been a great year for us. We grew as a team and made no mistakes. This title is a tribute to Lap57 team work and the crew who made it happen. We have taken a big step forward over the past season. Last year we were inconsistent, this year we corrected the problems and the championship is our reward.”
With the two race wins on the island, Khan has also extended his winning streak to nine race victories in succession – a remarkable achievement at any level of motorsport. On the day Khan got the better of team mate Rupesh Channake (Lap57 Honda) and Constantinos Annivas (Gulf Petrochem Renault Clio) – the pair finished second and third respectively, in both races.
After the second race, the most relieved man in the Yas paddock was Alexandros Annivas, who picked up two maximum points scores in the Clio Cup race-within-a-race, but he worked hard for the reward as he was forced to nurse home a car with a seriously ailing gearbox and only a deft touch by Annivas ensured that the Gulf Petrochem backed car made it over the finish line. With it the Fujeirah based Greek driver sealed the inaugural Clio Cup title.
Annivas said, “This was my longest day in the cockpit of a car. From the first lap of the second race I knew we had a serious problem with the gearbox. I did everything I knew to nurse it home with it jumping out of gear – there was no gearbox left. Really it was nerve wrecking stuff, but a big relief to finish and take the title. A big thank you to my sponsors Gulf Petrochem who made all this possible.”
Also clutching two winner’s trophies and beaming proudly, after scoring double wins on the day was, Nader Zuhour who took maximum points in Class 1 of the Total UAE Touring Car Championship driving his NFS Racing prepared SEAT. He delivered one of his best drives to date on a circuit that has not always been kind to his driving style, but a change in his approach paid dividends.
Zuhour spoke after the final race, “What a fantastic day. I am very, very happy as this is one of my best races I have had this season. It has been really a tough year, we started with several top contenders and even now there are three drivers capable of winning. My win at Yas started in practice on Thursday, where I adjusted the way I drive. Being less aggressive and rather than dominating the car I went with the flow and drove according to what the car wanted – not what I wanted. And it worked. Also I need to thank the guys from NFS Racing for preparing a great race car. Dubai Autodrome and Yas marina for hosting the races. Yes I am very happy today.”
On the other side of the spectrum, it was not a good day for veteran Zuhour’s main rival Costas Papantonis in the Gulf Petrochem backed SEAT, who is gunning for his third UAE touring car title, A coming together in race one with Mohammed Al Owais (Emirates Racing Team SEAT) compromised Papantonis’ day and he went home with two DNFs.
The Total UAE Touring Car Class 1 championship is not yet wrapped up as there is still an outside chance that Papantonis, steals it on the last race day of the season at Dubai Autodrome on 13 April, where double points for both races will be up for grabs. Zuhour needs to finish one of the two races, at the finale, to claim his first ever UAE national championship title.
NGK UAE GT Championship: Iossifidis crowned GTC champion
John Iossifids was crowned 2011/2012 NGK UAE GT Champion after winning both races at Yas Marina Circuit in his Aston Martin. On Friday he shared the cockpit with Martin Baerschmidt, who missed a couple of races during the course of the season and thus takes the runner-up spot in the points standings. The pairing scooped the team title in the process.
Second on the day were Ray Bignell and Graeme Hannah sharing the EMAL Racing Porsche.