Sugden Wins in Dubai
The first of the two FIA GT Championship races in the Middle East on Friday the 18th resulted in another win for Tim Sugden and Emmanuel Collard in their GT2 Porsche. This is the 5th win for them in the series and equals the number of wins by their sister car in the championship
Qualifying had been very close between the two GruppeM cars with Mark Lieb in the #66 just 1 tenth of a second quicker than Collard whose turn it was to qualify the #88 this weekend. At the start #66 got away but the lead was never more than a few seconds and at times just a few tenths as starting drivers Lieb and Collard battled it out. After the first pit stop Sugden was able to swap the lead for a while but Mike Rockenfeller, now driving the other car got past again before the heat exchanger on #66 broke a pipe in exactly the same way as caused the retirement of Sugden and Collard at Brno earlier in the season. Thus the luck for the two cars is evened up a bit and #88 was able to storm away from the rest of the GT2 field to win by over a lap at the end of the 3 hours. This is the first time that the 66 car has mechanical problems this year whereas the 88 car has had problems in two races and a long delay after an accident in the Spa 24 hour race that also cost championship points.
After the race Tim said: "We were so far in the lead that it was just a case of being careful with the car and not making any mistakes. It was easy really. We will take any win anywhere we can get it. With Mike and Marc having won the Championship, and with 5 races won each, the only thing we can hold onto is that we want to win one more race than them."
Overall the GruppeM team has done a fantastic job in their first season of International races and Kenny Chen can be really proud of what they have achieved. Win number 5 in the season equals Tim's tally of wins from 2004 but last year he scored the victories in British Championship races whereas this year they have been scored in full international long distance races in the FIA series.
The FIA GT championship now moves to Bahrain for the last race of the season next Friday (25th) where the rivalry between the two GruppeM cars will be resumed.