A Splendid Full-Race Weekend At Dubai Autodrome!
Dubai Autodrome is the UAE’s first fully-integrated multipurpose motorsport and entertainment facility. It has hosted many motoring events in the past. The last weekend (8-9 Dec 2017) we witnessed MRF Challenge, Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East, alongside local series UAE Sportbike Championship and the NGK 3HR Enduro.
MRF Challenge is an acclaimed formula series from India. We got to see a very competitive race from the participants. Two drivers, Martono and Drugovich, were giving a neck-to-neck competition to each other. Even in the qualifying, the Indonesian driver getting the upper hand in the closing minutes to secure the best lap time of 1:55.833 on the Grand Prix Circuit at Dubai Autodrome to claim pole position. However, he failed to get a good start in the actual race and lost four places in the first lap.
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 of 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.
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. Omani driver Al Faisal Al Zubair and Tom Oliphant of Great Britain were the top drivers of the race. 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. Oliphant said, “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!”
NGK 3HR Enduro
Rob Barff and Jordan Grogor in the Dragon Racing Ferrari 458 GT3 won 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 a sizeable gap of almost two minutes over fellow Dragon Racing teammates Jim Geddie and Matt Griffin, driving another Ferrari.
Class One belonged to Lap 57, 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 the track, while Jeff Curtis and James Edmeades drove their Radical SR3 home to claim Class Six.
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.