UK: Personal best Top-Ten finish for young Kuwait driver Haytham Qarajouli at wet Donington round
The second round of the 2019 Ginetta Junior Championship took place at Donington Park, one of the most Internationally renowned and historical circuits in the world. The weekend (Apr 26/27) was a triple header, with three race events on the 1.9miles National circuit configuration.
Practice on Thursday saw drivers swamped in water as storm Hannah blew across the UK. Several red flag stoppages meant that only a few laps were possible due to all the standing water, with drivers and teams understandably cautious about the worsening conditions.
By Saturday’s qualifying session, with the rain was still pouring down at 11:40am, all drivers were watching the black clouds as the weather played a big part in performance. Haytham qualified in 22nd place struggling to get a good pace with all the excess water.
Later that afternoon, the rain had subsided for the first race of the weekend and at 4:30pm, just at the start of the race, the sun broke through the clouds and started drying out the track.
On the opening lap, at turn one, there was a big crash with several cars and debris needing to be cleared away, the safety car was deployed for the following 4 laps. On the re-start Haytham managed to maintain his position and hold of advances from those in hot pursuit.
As the chequered flag came down, Haytham had moved up into 11th position. After post-race technical disqualification of the winner, Haytham was promoted to 10th overall, and an admirable 5th in the rookie class.
Sunday’s second race started early at 9:10am as the sun finally started to shine. Haytham got a good start and overtook a few cars on the opening laps, by the end of the 12 lap race, Haytham had climbed to 15th overall from his start position of 22nd.
The last race of the day started in bright sunshine at 3:10pm, the start was a scrappy affair as Haytham was pushed wide onto the grass by another car and couldn’t regain his position due to a technical issue with the car. As he rejoined the pack he clawed back a few places, but on the last lap he was pushed out wide again and ended up on the grass, only to rejoin and take the chequered flag in 20th place. Post-race, Haytham was then handed a 10 second penalty for a false start on the grid.
“It was a frustrating weekend as we had good pace in the car, but a lot of rain which didn’t help seeing as I’m used to the sand and desert. In Kuwait we don’t get much rain,” commented Haytham.
“I’m slightly frustrated as I didn’t realise I had moved. Every race weekend I’m learning more about the car and myself, having never been in any form of racing before, this is a steep learning curve for me and I’m enjoying the challenge immensely. We have a great team and TCR and all the mechanics and fellow drivers are easy to get along with.”
“I was so happy to have great support from Kuwait this weekend. Sheikha Farah Al-Sabah, Kuwait’s first and only female FIA licence holder, Sheikh Ali Al-Sabah and family friends from Kuwait, Samantha Murray and her sons Layton and Kaden, who all came for Saturday’s race to cheer me on. Especially my godfather, Kuwait racing driver Khaled Al Mudhaf, who flew over to support me and offer some helpful advice. In fact, it’s his fault I got hooked on motorsport in the first place, I have been watching his races since I was about 5 years old.”
“Lots of lessons were learned this weekend, and I’m positive now we will have some great racing at Thruxton on 18th May, not my favourite circuit, but I will always try my best,” he concluded.