Dubai: MRF series returns to Dubai Autodrome with Drugovich taking the points lead
Dubai, UAE, 10 December 2017: The acclaimed formula series from India, MRF Challenge, returned to Dubai Autodrome on Friday and Saturday (8-9 December) to headline a full weekend of racing, which also featured the 100th running of the PorscheGT3 Cup Challenge Middle East, alongside local series UAE Sportbike Championship and the NGK 3HR Enduro.
Despite technical difficulties early on, Brazilian driver Felipe Drugovich bagged two out of four races during the weekend to extend his championship lead over Presley Martono and Rinus van Kalmthout. In qualifying it was a two-way battle between Martono and Drugovich, with the Indonesian driver getting the upper hand in the closing minutes to secure a best lap time of 1:55.833 on the Grand Prix Circuit at Dubai Autodrome to claim pole position.
The pole sitter got off to a sluggish start in race one, which allowed four other drivers to jump ahead, including Drugovich, who went on to win the race by 2.253 seconds over Polish driver Alex Karkosik. An electrical gremlin struck Drugovich’s car on the final corner of race two, which allowed Dutch driver Rinus van Kalmthout to cruise in for the victory, a full 11.118 seconds ahead of Louis Gachot. Drugovich struck back in race three, having another close battle with Martono. The Brazilian held on
for the win, crossing the finish line just 0.760 seconds in front of the Indonesian driver.
A determined Martono stormed back in the final race of the weekend, vindicating earlier setbacks. He finally emerged from his scuffles with Drugovich to secure a maiden win for the season. Drugovich was a mere 0.701 seconds back to secure second-place.
The two race wins and a podium finish gave Felipe Drugovich a boost of points to protect his championship lead. He currently sits on top of the leaderboard on 150 points, followed by Presley Martono with 132 points, and third-place Rinus van Kalmthout on 124 points.
Championship leader Felipe Drugovich, commented, “Today was a really good day so I am very happy to extend my championship lead. Especially after we had that problem yesterday, today’s win was sweet. I really enjoy driving on this circuit.”
Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East
The renowned series marked its 99th and 100th races at Dubai Autodrome during the weekend, and the spoils were split between Omani driver Al Faisal Al Zubair and Tom Oliphant of Great Britain. The pair battled it out over two races, with Wolfgang Triller of Germany always just out of reach trying to chase them down.
It was a solid drive from Al Zubair in race one. He crossed the finish line a generous 4.670 seconds ahead of Oliphant, with Triller trailing in for third.
Race two was more combative, and this time it was Oliphant who emerged victorious, just 0.707 seconds in front of Al Zubair. Again, Triller failed to hunt down the race leaders and had to settle for a third-place finish.
The win for Oliphant is his second victory in the opening four races of the twelve-race championship and extends his lead in the drivers’ standings to 6 points over Al Zubair. Afterwards Oliphant remarked, “I’m really pleased, and to win the 100th race in the championship is a real honour. We now move on with the championship lead going into the winter break and hope to
come back to Dubai in the new year just as strong!”
UAE Sportbike Championship
It couldn’t have been a better weekend for Ahmed Almuyini in his bid to overthrow defending 600cc champion Mahmoud Tannir. The Saudi rider topped qualifying screens early on with a best lap time of 2:11.188 and then went on to take the next two races.
Almuyini, riding a Kawasaki ZX6R, came out on top of a chaotic race one, nabbing the class victory by a full 5.884 seconds ahead of Tannir. Race two was much closer, but Almuyini still managed to keep ahead of the Honda CBR600RR of Tannir, crossing the finish line just 0.247 seconds in front. Italian riders dominated the Rookie 600cc class, with Federico Fratelli on a Yamaha R6 and the Kawasaki ZX6R of Angelo Villone each taking top honours. Fratelli nabbed race one over Villone by
0.243 seconds, but then Villone hit back with a class win in race two, a full 4.672 seconds ahead of Fratelli.
In the non-championship 1000cc class, Nasser Al Shaiba riding a Yamaha R1, was unstoppable. The Emirati was second overall in qualifying, and he then went on for two class wins.
NGK 3HR Enduro
The Dragon Racing Ferrari 458 GT3, driven by Rob Barff and Jordan Grogor, went from pole to victory on the final race on Saturday.
After three hours of endurance racing, the number 88 Ferrari crossed the finish line having completed 82 laps on the Grand Prix Circuit, winning Class Three and the overall contest. They cruised in with sizeable gap of almost two minutes over fellow Dragon Racing teammates Jim Geddie and Matt Griffin, driving another Ferrari.
Class One belonged to Lap57, with Ashan Silva and Nader Zuhour and their Honda TCR taking a class win over Mohammed Al Owais and Abdulla Al Hammadi driving an Audi TCR. Will Morrison and Julian Griffin topped Class Two as the sole surviving vehicle of the Renault Clio Cup cars on track, while Jeff Curtis and James Edmeades drove their Radical SR3 home to claim
Wolfgang Triller ran from the Porsche GT3 Cup podium to join up with Christoffer Bergstroem for the Enduro. The two drivers got Triller back on the podium by taking a Class Four victory over the Duel Racing Porsche 911 Cup Car driven by the Moutran brothers, Ramzi, Nabil and Sami.