24 September 2011 – If Friday at the Kartdrome is anything to go by, we are in for a bumper season of kart racing in 2011/2012. There were big fields in the heat of the Dubai night with a number of new drivers making their débuts and out to impress, alongside seasoned drivers who in turn wanted assert themselves in the pecking order. These combined ingredients delivered action packed racing of the highest order and sets a most encouraging benchmark for the rest of the season.

Combined Max Seniors, Max Masters and DD2

Nikita Miliakov sent out a loud and clear signal to his rivals on Friday night:  ‘I am the man to beat in the Max class’ as he powered to a hat-trick of victories – in the Heat race, Pre-Final and Final – after qualifying on pole earlier in the evening. Miliakov, a name to note down for the future,

Throughout the evening the battle behind the leader was a hard fought affair between Raffaelle De Lorenzi, Vincent Baron and Ali Al Najjar, with little to separate the trio. In the end it was De Lorenzi (second) and Baron (third) who made it on to the podium in the Final.

In the Max Masters Walid Al Qassemi was untouchable, notching up three wins on the night, including the all important Final where he was the best of all the Max drivers. He was shadowed all night by Andrew Fuller who finished second in the final, followed home by Arnaud Bouf in third.

Multiple UAE/DAMC champion Maurits Knopjes dominated the small DD2 field on the night, but the Dutchman is confident that the fields will grow with some top drivers expected to join the category in future rounds – the names of Saeed Al Mehairi and Mohammed Al Mutawaa were being mentioned in the paddock.

Tom Bale now has moved up into the Junior Max category after years of dominating the Cadet class

Junior Max

There was a great deal of interest surrounding Tom Bale moving into Junior Max category after years of dominating the Cadet class and also doing a substantial amount of kart racing at the highest level abroad. The diminutive Dubai schoolboy was facing Max Junior pace setter Piers Pakenham-Walsh with the likes of Ameer Hassan and Cyrus Engineer in the mix for good measure.

From the outset it became clear that Bale meant business, qualifying on pole by a whopping half a second and winning the first heat from Pakenham-Walsh. Bale repeated the feat in the Pre-Final and it would have been brave to bet against him winning the Final. But Pakenham-Walsh, had other plans and dug deep to pull off arguably his best win to date at the Kartdrome with Bale snapping at his heels. The pair crossed the finish line in tandem and a new rivalry was born on the night – this one could turn out to be a season long thriller.

Engineer kept the top two in his sights throughout the evening and is likely to be in the mix as the season progresses as he has the pace and race craft to surpirse. The likes of Hassan and Patrick Hannah have matured into strong competitors who are also likely to feature in future. An intriguing year lies ahead in the junior ranks.

Taymour Kermanshahchi is the new kid on the block in Cadet class

Cadet Class

All indications are that Taymour Kermanshahchi is going to be the new kid to beat in the Cadet Class despite a tough night at the Kartdrome. He started well by qualifying on pole, but followed that up with a DNF in the Heat race, but bounced back to take second in the Pre-Final before powering to victory in the Final.

Lucas Petersson was his main rival throughout the night winning the Heat and Pre-Final but had to settle for second when it mattered. Tahmud Chohan was also impressive, constantly in contention and taking a well deserved third place in the Final.

SWS RX250 Master Cup race 1 saw Saeed Al Mehairi take first with Haytham Sultan Al Ali second and Sam Zian in third

SWS RX250 Master Cup

With Saeed Al Mehairi on any racing grid, you know he will be the man to beat and will invariably be found battling at the sharp end of proceedings. Friday night at the Kartdrome was no exception, as the young Emirati powered pole position in qualifying and two wins on the night.

The results would appear to indicate that Al Mehairi had things all his own way, but this was not the case as he only manged pole by a tiny 0.097 seconds from Paul Chatenay. Then in the sprint races Al Mehairi had to work hard to contend with the likes of Chatenay, Haytham Sultan Ali and Sam Zian who ran him close all night.

Behind Al Mehairi, in the first race it was Ali who took second place with Zian third. In race two Chatenay bounced back, from fifth in race one, to take second and Zian again taking home silverware for third place.

Rami Joudi, who leads the UAE SWS standings and was frequent winner before the summer break, had a subdued evening by his lofty standards. Flying the flag for BASMA (BAttling to SMile Again) charity, he finished fourth in the first race and fifth in race two.

SWS R7 Star Cup

Arguably the toughest and closest form of leisure karting, evenly matched Sodi R7 Arrive & Drive karts in the hands of some of the most determined and competitive drivers delivers some of the closest racing on offer anywhere.

How close? One second separating the top five and two seconds separating the top 16!

Tom Soubiron qualified on pole, but in the first race it was Philippe Valenze who managed to break away and score victory. Dehind him a battle royal took place with half a dozen drivers swapping positions on every corner of every lap. Riveting stuff over 12 laps, with Atef Al Barwani taking second place ahead of Hadi Al Baloushi in third and followed by a gaggle of drivers: Alexandre Silanine, Soubiron and Hussein Umid Ali – nose to tail as they crossed the finish line.

Soubiron came good in race two to take top honours, followed across the line in second place by Talal Al Jesmi impressing after finishing 17th in the first race, with Baloushi, in third and ahead of Valenze, Al Barwani and UAE Sportbike ace Andrea Capoccia in sixth.
Next Round

Round 2 of the DAMC Karting Championship and SWS Sprint Races at the Kartdrome take place on Friday, 14 October 2011.

Report from Dubai Autodrome – Full results here