Riyadh, Mon, Dec 15th 2014 – Saudi national Mohammed Jawa took a stunning podium finish in the Pro-Am class at the Abu Dhabi Gulf 12hr with the Ferrari 458 GT3, the same car he raced to a class win the Dubai 24h in January. The Dragon team suffered an emotional roller-coaster near the end of the race as tension mounted when a safety car changed the fate of the race for the team.
The Gulf 12hr, is a race of two halves, with two six hours races and a three hour break in between, it’s a unique race format to this event in Abu Dhabi. This time Mohammed joined up with team mates Jordan Grogor from UAE and Sean Walkinshaw from the UK, making his debut as GT driver.
Mohammed was geared up for practice and qualifying, relishing the opportunity to get back into the Ferrari 458 GT3 once again. In the most part the car would remain the same technically, but this time using the Avon tyres.
As the team set about qualifying for the race they had, in their Pro-Am class, great competition from Europe with no less than seven other Ferrari 458 GT3 cars with top professional drivers. After the combined average lap-time from the three drivers, the team were qualified in 11th place on the grid.
Part one of the race would start at 9am on the Yas Marina 5.5km F1 circuit and by the first hour Jordan had settled in to a good pace to hand over to Mohammed for the next stint, moving the car up to ninth place overall. During next few hours the drivers swapped over every sixty minutes for fuel and tyres and managed to reach seventh place by the chequered flag at 3pm, completing four pit stops, totaling just 9 minutes.
The 3 hour break gave the drivers time to talk with the engineers to discuss any changes needed and to maintain the car, Mohammed took the opportunity to get a few hours rest with the team before the next stage of the race started at 6:00pm and into the night.
Starting the race on the grid in their final positions from race 1 in seventh, gave the team a fighting chance of a podium finish and that remained the game plan throughout, dicing closely with both cars AF Corse cars #4 and #5, the battle was intense.
The last 30mins of the race proved to be a turning point for the team as the #99 Kessel Racing Ferrari car with MotoGP star Jorge Lorenzo at the wheel, had a big crash at turn 11 leaving the car in a dangerous position, the first Safety Car of the race was deployed and this closed the 15 second gap that had been built up over the previous four hours and almost certainly securing the team the third in class place podium. On the green flag, it was all or nothing as Jordon Grogor battled to maintain his place but eventually he lost a position to the AF Corse car #5, then car #4 three laps later in the battle. Jordan managed to re-take car #4 and back up to fourth in class. He had to settle for seventh overall by the chequered flag, just losing the podium.
The team and Mohammed were deflated as they walked to the podium, only to be told that the #10 GT Russia car had been given a 2 lap penalty, due to a driver time infringement, which now elevated the Dragon Team back into their much deserved third in class podium position and sixth overall.
“I can’t believe it, we were on such a high during the last hour, because we had fought so hard to get to the podium, then when the safety car came out we knew we had lost our 15 sec buffer, then we lost a place on the green flag, so it would be a big fight to the finish to maintain our position, then to get overtaken by the #4 Ferrari in the last few laps, we were deflated as we walked to the podium. Then to be given that news was like a miracle, I can’t explain how happy we are to have been rewarded for all our hard effort, the team were great and my co-drivers were amazing, it’s a great feeling to be on the podium in endurance racing again,” commented Mohammed.
‘’I really want to congratulate Prince Abdulaziz Turki Al Faisal, my fellow Saudi friend and his Black Falcon team for the class win, it felt amazing to have two Saudi drivers share the podium in such a fantastic GT race.”
Next up on the race calendar is Saudi Racing Festival on 20th Dec in Saudi Arabia where Mohammed will race the Ferrari Challenge car alongside other GT cars at Reem Circuit in Riyadh. Next year Mohammed will be back in the Ferrari GT3 to defend his class win at the Dubai 24hr on January 8-10th at Dubai Autodrome.
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