Race Report: UAE National Race Day at Yas Marina Circuit
Yas Marina Circuit hosted, for the first time, a UAE National Race Day featuring a Cytech UAE GT Championship race, Total UAE Touring Cars, UAE Sportscars and Suzuki Swift Cup. The races were run on the North circuit configuration, which ultimately made for some fast and furious racing on the day.
The Cytech UAE GT Championship witnessed a big upset as Raed Hassan and Bassam Kronfli powered their MSW Ginetta to overall victory, and GTA class win, in the one hour enduro, notching up their first win in this series. Hassan said, "This is a great day for us. A fantastic win. After yesterday we lost a wheel, we were very nervous. I had to preserve the tyres in the first stint before handing over to Bassam who showed what a big heart he has. He drove brilliantly. I am so happy as we have worked very hard to be here and win today."
Kronfli was equally delighted, "This was brilliant. Really what a race, hard to put it into words. Just very, very happy to win with Raed." The pre-race favourite pairing of Karim Al Azhari and Fabien Giroix in the TAM Auto Engineering powered Corvette were looking like strong contenders for a win but a puncture cost them time and dropped them down to second in the GTA Class.
In the sister MSW Porsche Jon Simmonds and Phil Quaife took the narrowest victory in the GTB Class after a strong drive which saw them hunt down the Corvette on route to the flag before pouncing on the final lap of the race. Making it a great day on the island for the MSW Racing prepared cars. Emirati teenager Mohammed Al Mutawaa and Jiri Skula shared the House of Portier Corvette to take second place in the GTB Class after leading most of the way.
Robert Cregan took a fine victory on his "home" circuit at the wheel of the GulfSport Maserati in the highly competitive GTC Class.
Initially, due to a technical glitch, Humaid Al Masaood in the Aston Martin was classified fourth, but when corrected by officials, he rightfully took second place in the class despite a drive through penalty. Khaled Al Mudhaf and Jan Vanmeerbeek finished third in the class at the wheel of the Ginetta with fourth place going to Saad Salman and Jordan Grogor taking in the KTM X-Bow.
In the Total UAE Touring Car Championship it was a day of mixed fortunes for Class 1 pace setter Khalid Bin Hadher who has been the toast of this year's touring cars in the Performance Racing Seat. The Emirati took a comfortable win in the first race over rookie Andre Ramdhanny in the MSW Seat.
In race two Ramdhanny took top honours after Bin Hadher ran out of fuel, finishing a lap down in fourth. Ramdhanny bounced back from recent disappointments to set fastest in practice, take pole position and set fastest lap on his way to victory.
Mohammed El-Arishy drove a strong race to take second in his BMW 330ci after a race long duel with Simon Dennis in the Golf GTi who was third, a quarter second off El-Arishy
With leading Renault campaigner Spencer Vanderpal absent, Class 2 turned into a Honda battleground with the Lap57 duo of Umair Khan and Mohammed Al Owais slugging it out with Aslam Moola. In race one Al Owais and Moola had a huge tussle for top honours with the former UAE Touring Car Champion Al Owais getting the edge to win by half a second from second placed Moola and Khan in third.
In the second race Al Owais took the chequered flag this time with Khan filling his mirrors. Moola had problems which saw him retire on the eighth lap. Oliver Grimm too third place and ended the best of the Renault Clio brigade.
One of the highlights of the action at Yas Marina was the UAE Sportscar battle for top honours between reigning UAE champion Jordan Grogor in the AUH Motorsports Radical and ace British driver Rob Barff in the NFS Juno. There was nothing to separate the pair on the day and fittingly they went home with a win apiece. Grogor winning race one and Barff taking victory in the second race.
Klaus Kresnik won two of the three Suzuki Swift Cup races, race one and race three, while Costas Papantonis took the chequered flag in race two.