14th November saw the 1st race day of the UAE Sportsbike 2014-15 Championship. After winning all 4 races in Qatar championship saw far the team were in good spirits and were confident of a good result. Looking at the entry list, the nemesis from last year Mr Adbullaziz Bin Laden was back on his ZXR-6. The season promised to be tight fought battle between Mahmoud and Abdullaziz. The teams sole goal was to wrestle the title back from the flying Saudi Falcon
Thursday morning was used to set-up garage with three test sessions in the after noon used to dial the bike into race specification as the UAE championship uses road tyres as compared to the slick tyres used in Qatar an thus the bike and the Dubai circuit has heavier braking corners as compared to Losail.
The day ended with the team generaly happy but with a few things to test during the warm-up.
15th November. Warm-up passed without incident Mahmoud being happy with the set-up changes and so new tyres were fitted for qualifying. Ian kept Mahmoud back for a couple of minutes as almost every other rider headed out as soon as qualifying started and thus the track would be a little conjested. 2 laps to scrub the tyres in and then it was down to the serious business of trying to put the bike on class pole position (and fastest overall if possible). With 3 minutes to go Mahnoud put in the fastest overall laptime (fastest in class), only to have the titanium terror Gernot Dobida (well Gernot does have titanium plates in both wrists!) on his CBR 1000 pip Mahmoud to overall fastest time. Still the team were happy with the class pole position.
Race 1 and the riders were informed that there was a problem with the starting lights and it would be a flag start. The net result being an unfortunate jump start by Gernot which resulted in a 30s time penalty being added to his race time which put him in 3rd place in class from the race victory. Mahmoud got a reasonable start as was close behind Abdullaziz and feeling comfortable. Sadly on lap 4 Mahmoud took a slightly tighter line into the big bowl which resulted in the front tyre washing out. The resulting low side scuffed Mahmouds leathers, bent the clutch lever and shamfered down the crash bungs on the bikes left side.
Within 30 minutes the team of Julien, Arthur and Jay had the bike prepared for race 2. Sterling work guys.
Race 2 saw Mahmoud start from the back of the grid due to his non-finish in race 1. This time the starting lights were working….. An excellent start put Mahmoud into 5th overall and 2nd in class after lap one with Mahmoud taking 4th place overall on lap 2. The next 10 laps saw Mahmoud fighting tooth and nail with Alan Boyter (BMW 1000RR) and Gernot with Abdullaziz a further 2 seconds head. The team could feel Mahmoud frustratons as he would close in on the corners only for the 1000cc bikes to blow by on the start finish straight.
At the chequered flag Mahmoud finished 2nd in class and 4th overall. Podium time.
As the team packed-up there gear they reflected on what might have been but were still happy with a 2nd in race 2. It was agreed though that two 1st place finishes were acheivable at the next race day.
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