UAE: Al Azhari sails to victory in inaugural TRD 86 Cup at Yas Marina Circuit
Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, December 14, 2014: The UAE’s motor racing fans were treated to close-fought, nail-biting racing action as the inaugural TRD 86 Cup opening weekend kicked off at Yas Marina Circuit.
On Friday, ten UAE-based drivers lined up on the grid for the inaugural race of Yas Marina Circuit’s first ever, homegrown championship – the TRD 86 Cup.
Spectators cheered as German driver Karim Al Azhari crossed the finish line in first place, closely pipping Emirati Shihab Al Faheem to ensure that race one of the opening round of the TRD 86 Cup was a tense affair. It was not an easy win for Al Azhari, who started from pole position and completed the 8 laps of the race in 22 minutes and 12.538 seconds, taking the chequered flag ahead of Al Faheem by just 0.576 seconds. Dutchman Tom Verkooijen took third place, a great placement for the self-confessed “rookie driver”.
Later that day, the drivers were back on track for race two, with the grid reversed from race one. Continuing their earlier battle, competition was fierce betweenKarim Al Azhari and Shihab Al Faheem. Following a head-to-head battle, first and second was a mirror image of race one, with Al Azhari storming through the field to claim his second victory of the day in 22 minutes and 07.368 seconds, again just beating Al Faheem by the smallest of margins – a mere 0.579 seconds.
“It’s been a wonderful day of motor racing and I’m just so happy to have claimed the top spot in round one of the TRD 86 Cup,” said Al Azhari after the race. “The organisation of the event was first class, very professional and I’m just pleased to have the opportunity to race here. This was a very special day for me and my Runner up Al Faheem was delighted with his second place on the podium: “My weekend has been fantastic and very enjoyable. I am glad I finished round one of the TRD 86 Cup on the podium despite it being a very tough competition.”
Iranian driver Sam Taheri placed third in race two, with Dutchman Tom Verkooijen claiming the fourth spot. The finish order for the rest of the pack included Emirati drivers Ahmed AL Milaihi, Farhan AL Bastaki and Ahmed Junaibi, Sultan Al Rahoomi and Lebanese Edy Saaiby, while Indian Shibin Yousaf was forced to retire from the race early with only two laps remaining.
Speaking from the race, Al Tareq Al Ameri, CEO of Yas Marina Circuit, said: “Through our Yas Motor Racing Club, we wanted to bring an affordable and accessible motor racing series to motorsport enthusiasts in the community.
“It was great to see such exciting racing. The drivers seemed to have the time of their lives and that’s what this championship is all about.”
Jon Williams, ?Managing Director at Al-Futtaim Motors, said: “Following the announcement of the TRD 86 Cup in October, we received a great amount of enthusiasm from the racing community in the UAE. The TRD 86 Cup is the essence of Toyota’s Waku Doki promise – Japanese for “adrenaline rush” – providing exhilarating performance at an affordable price.
“The launch of TRD in the UAE last month is also a testament to Al-Futtaim Motors’ intentions for the automotive community across the UAE, where we are providing style and substance to enthusiasts across the UAE, as well as supporting the development of local racing talent. With a grid consisting of 60% Emirati drivers, Al-Futtaim Motors is continuing its decades-long heritage of being part of the fabric of the nation.”
Amateur driver, Edy Saaiby, a producer at FOX TV, shared his experience following the first race: “The TRD 86 Cup is a great experience that’s truly adrenaline pumping. With the support of Al-Futtaim Motors, the series has great potential to become a premiere event on the racing calendar.”