UAE: Stuttering start for Mahmoud Tannir’s championship defence
TAG Heuer – Tannir Moto Racing: Season begins with 2012 Flash Back!
The off season saw the team’s trusty Triumph being fully refreshed at Probikes. The team has already extended his partnership with NGK and Fitness First and successfully signed Majid Al Futtaim as a main sponsor alongside Al Yousuf Motors racing accessories to join Mobil and MC Powersport as products support. Mahmoud and his crew chief Ian welcomed Scott Donnely, Cynthia, Toby and Shane to head up the digital media, PR and communications, mechanical and race support at the TAG Heuer supported, Tannir Moto Racing team (TMR).
Thursday saw the team set-up the pit area in the morning with the afternoon comprising of 3, 20 minute test sessions. The control tyre this season is Dunlop’s D212 as compared to the D211 from last year. Sessions were used to try and establish a setup that would get the best out of the tyres. At the end of the day, we were still not confident and decided to extend the testing to include morning warm up on fresh tires.
Warm-up came and went without a hitch and tyre wear looked good but Mahmoud was not happy with the handling with too much vibrations from the front tyre so a bit of suspension tweaking was required.
Qualifying on, Ian sent Mahmoud out 1st to try and get a couple of clear laps, which proved successful. The riders where recording ever quicker lap times with the 2nd-6th changing almost every time a rider crossed the start-finish line. The exception being Abdulaziz on his ZX6R who nobody could shift from P1. Qualifying finished with Mahmoud in 5th place in class, not what was planned for but it could have been worse. There was however only 1.1 seconds between 1st and 6th. This could be a real bun fight.
After the huge wheelie at the start of Race 1, Mahmoud completed the 1st lap in 5th place. Lap 2 saw him upping the pace and close down the bikes ahead. Disaster was to strike on the club link as Mahmoud clipped the small depression hard on brakes which caused the front to wash out. There was little damage to the bike and so Mahmoud was able to ride the bike back to the pits.
While repairing was frantically happening, Scott downloaded the GoPro cameras and reviewed the footage with Mahmoud. The camera clearly showed the bike clipping the bump which unsettled the bike while Mahmoud keeping the brakes for a fraction of a second longer than usual!
With the bike now back in a state of race readiness, lunch was called. Back shortly….
Due to the DNF (Did Not Finish), Mahmoud had to start the 2nd race from the back of the grid. This time he managed a much more effective start which saw him complete the 1 lap in the top 5. He then claimed 3rd place in class and tried desperately to overtake Alan and Nasser on their 1000cc bikes, but just before the club link, while Mahmoud had to brake hard as not to hit Alan, Joe was able to push his bike up the inside and take 3rd place. Mahmoud did all he could to try and stay with him, but with the time lost trying to overtake Nasser, Joe was able to pull a 5 second gap by the end of the race. Still a 4th place finish from the back of the grid was a satisfactory result.
Unfortunately, the team noticed a lose front spacer which caused most of the bad handling throughout the day, a bit too late, but it’s satisfying to know the reason! With the racing over, there is lots of work to be done and Ironically, last season Mahmoud crashed in race 1 but went on to defend his championship. Perhaps crashing in race 1 might actually be a lucky omen.
So until the next race day, it is goodbye from the team.