Dubai: Reigning Champion Qatari Amro Al Hamad maintains lead in Radical Cup with double podium at Dubai Autodrome
Doha, Qatar, Dec 9th 2014 –Reigning Radical Middle East Cup Champion Amro Al Hamad started his new racing season at Dubai Autodrome this past weekend with a new British team mate Ollie Smith. Both are Silver category drivers sharing the Radical SR3 RS car for the mini endurance races of one hour per race. The Qatar Shell Team however with this silver level pairing would be at a slight disadvantage as they would have the maximum time penalty added to their pit stops. Racing at the Dubai Autodrome, on the 5.3 km Grand Prix circuit, Amro’s Qatar Shell team had three days of practice and racing to get familiarized again with the car after the long summer with no racing at all. Testing on Thursday, proved to be a bit of a struggle for the drivers, neither finding a suitable set up in the car. The car is an older 2009 chassis and the team were at a technical disadvantage against other teams newer machinery.
Entering raceday on Friday 5th, meant that the new duo were still unsure if they would be competitive enough, however Ollie managed to give the team the first Pole position of the new Cup season. Race 1 proved to be a bit of a struggle with the set up they had on the car and they would be battling with top European Radical Championship driver Tony Wells. The team stopped halfway to change drivers and made their mandatory pit time stop of 65seconds. The team managed to keep up with the leading car to take a well-deserved second place on the podium and valuable points in the championship. On Saturday the team decided to make some more set up changes, but were stuck in the situation of being unable to test those settings as they were straight out for the final qualifying of the weekend. The team qualified P6 on the grid for the final race of the weekend, the older tyres and the changes in set up did not make Amro’s life easy. And due to the long GP circuit, the car was losing too much top speed on the straights. Amro started the race and managed to get it up to P4 before coming into the pits for the 65sec’s driver changeover to Ollie which seemed to take forever in the teams eyes, as other teams were enjoying only 45seconds stop due to their driver pairings. Ollie drove a sterling stint to gain two more positions, and managed to get it into P2, just behind the French team of Loffreda & Lutter. “To be honest, I didn’t drive well in that first round probably I got a bit rusty over the summer time but I promise to be my very best to improve in the next rounds specially that the next two rounds will be held in my own home country of in Qatar at Losail. I also want to mention a special thanks to Craig Thompson our technical manager at AUH who acted as our race engineer and worked hard during the three days of the first round to make sure everything was in place and helped us a lot when it came to setting up the car.’’ said Amro Al Hamad after the race weekend. “It was a pleasure to race with Amro in the Qatar Shell car. The Radical Middle East cup is a great, highly competitive championship but unfortunately we never quite got the car right all weekend, so to finish 2nd in both races was a solid performance,’’ commented Ollie Smith. The Radical Middle East Championship returns to racing at Losail on the 23rd and 24th of January, and returns to Qatar again on the 24th of February.