DAMC National Sportsbike Championship: The Boys Are Back in Town
November 9th saw the 1st bike race day of the new championship season with the event being held at the Dubai Autodrome. Duseja Moto Triumph returned to defend their 600cc championship title with their rider Mahmoud Tannir.
Thursday 8th November saw the team set-up their garage in the morning with the afternoon used to bed in the new front brake discs and pads, testing of the new mandatory Dunlop tyres, testing suspension settings and monitoring the fuel burn rates. Various pressure settings were tested to determine the best balance between grip and longevity with a conclusion being made in consultation with Dunlop. The team completed their preparation works and left the circuit around 6pm for a good night’s sleep.
Friday 9th November was the race day with 4 sessions (warm-up, qualifying and 2 races). There has been a slight change in the format this year as qualifying immediately follows the warm-up sessions. The idea being that the tyres will still be hot and thus there is less chance of an incident due to cold tyres.
The 1st order of the day was to set-up the pit wall with the monitor and pit board, purchase fuel switch on the tyre warmers.
Warm-up went on without a problem leaving the team with hot scrubbed tyres ready for qualifying. However with the slowdown lap taking roughly 2 1/2 minutes this only left the same amount of time for Mahmoud to have a drink and for his race engineer Ian, to check the bike over. “Moody” was soon out in the sessions but with 20 bikes being on track clear laps were hard to come by. Still, on his last lap he set the fastest lap in class to claim pole position. The boys are truly back in town.
The riders briefing was held shortly afterwards were several riders were given notice of a few infringements, the main one being not seeing e chequered flag signalling the end of the session. Oops.
During the break before the race some of the team’s sponsors came by the pit to checkout the new set-up and to wish the team good luck. At 11am the riders rolled out of the garage for the formation lap followed by the green flag lap. Come the race start, Mahmoud got a flyer and opened up a 1.4 second lead over Surya Raja on the 1st lap. Disaster struck on lap 2 as Mahmoud crashed out of the race entering the bowl section! Having felt comfortable, he entered that corner with a fraction more trail braking, unfortunately the left hand side of the front tire was too cold to handle the stress, “Moody” picked the bike up to rejoin but under the new rules he was not able to continue in the race, so he had the presence of mind to ride the bike back to the pits so the team had the maximum amount of time to carry out the repairs. Aldrin, the team’s chief mechanic and owner of Probikes, sprang into action to replace the damaged clutch lever, brake adjuster and foot peg / bracket. 20 minutes later the repairs where completed. Whilst this was going on Ian took Mahmoud to the medical centre for a compulsory check over. The doctor declared Mahmoud fit to race and so with a back of ice on his shoulder they returned to the garage. Surya went on to win the race for his 1st non rookie class victory after winning the cup the previous year. Well done Surya!
The team was determined to have a better start in race 2, where a strong but consistent pace was required in order not to over stress the tyres in the early laps. The riders where Held on the grid for an unknown reason after the green flag lap which resulted in another green flag lap being run. Still an excellent start from the back of the grid saw Mahmoud in 4th place after lap 1 and 2nd after lap 2. In order to help preserve the tyre Mahmoud sat behind Surya for a few laps which gave him the opportunity to work out where he could best pass Surya. On lap 6 he decided it was time to take over the lead and passed Surya and built up a 1.5 second lead. Surya didn’t give up and closed back in and retook the lead on lap 9 after “Moody’s” small mistake running wide at the hairpin. Mahmoud tried to close back in and retake the lead but after the non-finish in race 1 he decided that discretion was the better part of valour and took the second place finish as no good will come from taking more risks at this stage.
Mahmoud was a bit disappointed to finish 2nd after leading the race but on the other hand after starting from the back of the grid, finishing 2nd was a good result, especially after the crash in race 1. Funnily on the podium, Mahmoud thought he was still racing in last year’s championship and stood on the top step but he was politely reminded that he had actually finished in 2nd place….!
The team congratulates Surya on his double win and Rob Nicholas for putting another Triumph on the podium. On that note the team would like to thank all of their sponsors for their support and look forward to seeing everybody at the next round in 2 weeks’ time.