The Dubai Motorsports Festival held on 13th & 14th February saw the return of the National Race Day series UAETCC They would share the track with the rampaging Porsche Cup races in Rounds 9 &10 of their 16-round series.
The boys sporting the CircuitProDigital logos were certainly here for a result and the weekend had a lot in store. Day 1 saw a P5 grid qualification with Guillaume Simonnet, Rupesh Channake, Alexandros Annivas and Petr Valek all posting quicker times than Jonathan. The class 2 top three cars were separated by only 0.75secs over the 5.5kms GP course.
Race 1 – Jonathan got away from the line well slotting in behind Channake and Valek and things were settled for the opening few laps. On lap 6 Marcel Kusin managed a neat overtaking move into the bowl section but resulting in a spin on the exit of turn 15 which was a cause for concern as it was a only a split second reaction which avoided a collision between the two, thankfully it all worked out and the boys continued to push and finished 2nd on podium with ZRT managing a 2:24.0 best lap time.
Race day two came with a new plan. Jonathan was complaining of limited grip in the corners, a result of worn differential and tyres which were in ned of replaciment. The car was losing 1-second alone in sector 3. The team took a risk on day one to run with worn tyres and used the warm up on day 2 to bed in a new set of race rubber. Race 2 started with a blast off the line however the pace of the lap57 Honda led into turn 1. Alexandros Annivas made a startlingly bold move in the Gulf Petrochem Clio to overtake both Hondas between turns 3 and 4 on the outside. “I remember thinking… how did he do that” said Jonathan. “I’ve never seen anyone take that line before, we just don’t do it!”. The race unfolded with ZRT slipping another place in Lap 1 to the class 1 BMW of Kusin. A few laps later with the tyres now starting to grip the Jonathan calmly passed Kusin and closed the gap on Channake within a lap. The move on the Lap 57 car was swift as a result of a small error into a tight right-hander and so now the focus was on ‘The Greek’. Within 2-3 Laps the gap was closed and the pressure was on Alex. He didn’t give up without a fight though, exchanging places 3-times. Once ahead, ZRT were able to stretch the lead however the Lap57 Honda of Channake put in a strong attack and at the finish line the pair were separated by only 1.2secs.
Team Manager: Theo Souris said: “We came hopeful of a win although we knew it would be tricky. Race 2 saw us post a 2:21.9sec, a huge improvement over race 1. 37-points towards the Championship was an excellent result – we are happy”.
ZRT would this time like to thank the unsung heroes: Ian Rodgers (Moody #10) for having a better pit board than Dragon Racing!!! ? Heiki from Deutches Auto for being the guru in gears, Bandara and Janakar from Lap57 for making sure everything was in order on the day. Lastly but not least thanks to our fellow competitors and the staff of Dubai Autodrome. Get well soon to Costas Papantonis from all at ZRT.
Till next time… do ZRT have anything interesting coming?… Who knows?
Watch this space !
Photography courtesy of CPD & WAIKI.
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