UAE: Yas Marina Circuit flags off new styled DAMC NGK touring car series
19 October 2012, NGK Racing Series Round 1 – It was an action packed day at Yas Marina Circuit as the first round of the, DAMC organised, 2012-2013 NGK Racing Series got underway, with Rob Barff and Leon Price sharing overall wins in their Dragon Racing Ferrari 458 Italia. Also winning their respective classes on the day were Nabil Moutran in the Duel Racing SEAT Leon, Rupesh Channake in the Lap 57 Honda Civic and Ramzi Moutran in the Duel Racing Renault Clio.
Barff was untouchable in Race 1, but behind him the battles were fierce. Nabil Moutran managed to keep multiple UAE champion Costas Papantonis, in the Gulf Petrochem SEAT, at bay to bag maximum points in Class 1 with Channake doing the business in Class 2.
Barff summed up the day for the team, “For us this was an out and out testing session as we had the top engineer from Kessel Racing out here to upgrade the car with latest engine software, traction control ABS braking system which we were using for the first time. Our goal is to win the Dunlop 24 Hours in January 2013 and this is a part of the programme. All in all, a good day for us.”
All eyes were on the Clio Cup action, the race within a race, where there was nothing to separate the top three throughout the day, with Ramzi Moutran, driving the NFS prepared car, taking the win in the first race, with Jonathan Mullen runner-up and less than half a second down on the winner, with Konstantinos Annivas taking the final podium spot.
Nabil Moutran was relishing his first ever win in Class 1, saying at the end of the day, “Really it is a great feeling to win. I can’t describe it. We always push for a win when we get in a race car. Four wins out of four races is great for the team. Really brilliant, we’re over the moon.”
In Race 2 Price romped away to make it a double win for the AUH Motorsports run Ferrari, and said afterwards, “We have had a tough season in Europe and coming here to Yas and getting down to some serious mileage was a real pleasure. All this is with the Dunlop Dubai 24 Hours in mind, and we ticked the boxes we needed to this weekend. For me it was a day where I got a good run in the car, found a nice rhythm and enjoyed it all. Now we look forward to the next round in Dubai.”
Also claiming double wins on the day were the Moutran brothers Nabil and Ramzi in Class 1 and the Clio Cup respectively and Channake doing the double in Class 2.
Channake said of his wins flying the Lap57 flag, “It was a day of getting used to the new car which I am racing for the first time. Starting the season with a double win feels great and hopefully we can keep it going.”
Second in the Clio Cup, behind Ramzi Moutran, was Will Morrison followed by reigning champion Alexandros Annivas in third.
Ramzi Moutran reflected, “I want to thank my brother, my dad, Julian Griffin from NFS who did a great job and gave us great cars to drive. Coming to the first race you never know what you are going to get. Racing was close and we had enough to get the wins.”
Papantonis, who was runner-up in Class 1, in both races commented, “I was expecting to perform better, myself and the car. We will look and see what are the problems and we will be back and will try to win next time.”
The next round of the NGK Racing Series takes place at Dubai Autodrome on 30 November.
– Background to the new 2012-2013 NGK Racing Series
The newly named NGK Racing Series is run under the banner of DAMC ( Dubai Autodrome Racing Club) and was conceived for the 2012-2013 season in the interest of providing the UAE car racing community a multi-class series to race, combining several categories of racing that have prevailed in the UAE over recent years, into a single series with the aim establish and grow the grid during the course of the season.
Types of cars include:
• UAE Touring Car Championship for Class 1, Class 2 and Clio Cup cars, with drivers competing for the title of UAE Touring Car Champion for all three classes;
• GT cars competing in a Trophy style non-championship format;
• Special closed wheel race cars which do not fall into any of the above mentioned categories, competing in a Trophy style non-championship format.
NGK, who have a long and proud heritage in global motorsport including Formula 1, are title sponsors of the series, which they believe allows their brand to promote, develop and commit to motorsport, not only at the UAE national level, but also throughout the region.
A quality field will line-up at Yas Marina Circuit for the season’s two opening races, with multiple UAE champion from Greece Costas Papantonis leading the charge in Class 1 racing the Gulf Petrochem SEAT Leon, with Lebanese driver Nabil Moutran in the Duel Racing SEAT Leon and Brit Brian McGinley in the Phoenix Motorsport Opel Astra also in the mix.
In Class 2 Rupesh Channake will lead the Honda onslaught in Lap 57 Racing colours, with Jonathan Mullen campaigning his Integra.
The Renault Clio challengers include the more than capable Annivas brothers, Alexandros and Konstantinos, Ramzi Moutran who will fly the Duel Racing banner, Will Morrison in his own private entry and rookie Leon Johnson. These drivers will also compete for the top prize in the Clio Cup, where Alexandros Annivas is the reigning champion.
Several more teams are expected to join the NGK Racing Series as the season develops, particularly in the Clio Cup where a number of drivers are reportedly preparing cars and others showing interest in the series. This category of racing provides a cost effective entry level racing option for aspirant race drivers.