Dec 12th 2022
The inaugural Hankook 12H KUWAIT held on the 2nd December, was the first international, FIA-approved motor race to be held at Kuwait Motor Town since the circuit’s inauguration in 2019.
The 12-hour event, run on the KMT’s 5.609 km Grand Prix layout, was another new track to learn for the young Kuwait racer who returns from Europe recently crowned Ligier European JS2R Champion.
Qarajouli, the youngest Kuwait driver at just 18yrs to take part in the race, had no experience on the GP track or night time driving prior to the race, he also got up to speed quickly with the ‘Razoon-more than racing’ team #714 KTM X-Bow GTX machine.
He set out on free practice in a dominant fashion getting to grips with the car and track layout relatively quickly.
Acquainting himself with the unfamiliar ABS and Traction control of the KTM GTX car he took to the evening driving stints quickly setting fast laps and during his evening qualifying at 8:30pm setting a blistering pace at 1:56.1s.
Qarajouli was expertly supported by experienced Austrian teammates, Dominik Olbert and Daniel Drexel.
The ‘Razoon-more than racing’ KTM car qualified 4th on the grid and first in class for the race start on Friday, however later that evening the team were handed a grid penalty for a BOP infringement thus knocking the overall start position down to 6th.
Team owner Dominik Olbert took the race start at midday and set about carving his way up the field and by the second hour the car was in third place overall and first in class when second scheduled driver Daniel Drexel took the reins.
Qarajouli was scheduled to take his 2 hour stint in the car at 4pm driving into the sunset and early evening.
But soon into his stint, still in third place, disaster struck the car with an engine failure on turn 19 causing a loss of power and the engine to catch fire. The young driver took quick action by entering the pit lane where the fire marshals jumped into action and saved the car from further damage. The team set about making repairs and changing the engine, and after 2 hours in the pits were soon out again.
After an hour into his evening stint Haytham again suffered a technical failure, this time the alternator failed with a complete loss of power, the car stopped at 10:30pm on T4 and was towed back to the pit box where the alternator was replaced by the talented crew.
With a few laps to go till the end of the race Haytham set a blistering fastest lap in the GTX class at 1:55.9s, thus rounding up a third-place GTX podium. That lap secured Haytham with 13th fastest driver in the race from 72 overall.
The Austrian ‘Razoon-more than racing’ team also scooped up the ‘Spirit of the Race’ award for all the hard work during the race in overcoming the technical challenges so quickly. The team also received no penalties in the 12H race.
Commenting post-race Haytham Qarajouli said, “I was happy with my performance overall and I think I showed quite quickly I had a good pace matching the other drivers early on. The car is really a pleasure to drive, I was a little put off by the auto upshift at first but got used to it after a while, and it was new to me having the ABS and Traction control as I haven’t had that luxury this year racing in Europe with the Ligier JS2R.”
“It was a tough race, for my first long endurance race I did have a lot to deal with but the team were incredible in getting the engine and alternator replaced so quickly and did a great job all weekend.”
“A car on fire is not an ideal situation for any driver and I want to thank the fire crew at KMT who did a great job to put it out so quickly, thankfully I was close to pit lane entry when it happened so it was an easy decision to make.”
“I am extremely proud to have raced at my home circuit in Kuwait, and to take part in the first FIA endurance event. It was very special to be able to share the experience with my family and friends all here to support the team,” says Haytham Qarajouli.