GT

UAE: Series Abu Dhabi preview

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Back to the Island for Cytech UAE GT Championship

The roar of Cytech UAE GT cars returns to Yas Marina Circuit for round five of the championship which resumes after almost two months break. A quality field has assembled for the action packed weekend in Abu Dhabi also featuring the Formula 1 feeder series GP2 Asia and the non-stop action Aussie V8 Supercars.

The Yas round of the championship marks the start of the second half of the Cytech UAE GT Championship and at this stage several contenders are vying for the top accolades in UAE motorsport and with three titles up for grabs - the series is divided into GTA, GTB and GTC categories.

Multiple UAE champion Karim Al Azhari in the TAM Auto Engineering prepared House of Portier Corvette heads the GTA points standings with two victories, so far this year, to his credit. He will be sharing the cockpit with French veteran Fabien Giroix and the pairing must start as favourites for race honours.

Al Azhari said ahead of the weekend, "The championship is now at a crucial stage and it is tigher than it has ever been. The competition is tougher each year and I am working constantly to stay ahead. I have just returned from a successful racing stint in the USA as I am determined to take every opportunity to maximise the chances in the Cytech UAE GT Championship for me and my House of Portier team."

Raed Hassan and Bassam Kronfli in the MSW prepared Ginetta snatched a sensational victory last time out at Yas Marina and this time around they will be going all out to prove that the victory was no fluke.

The NFS Racing Dodge Viper in the capable hands of Julian Griffin is sure to be in the battle for outright victory and again fans can expect a slugfest between this trio.

In the GTB Class, the points battle is tight with Jon Simmonds (MSW Racing Porsche) tied in top spot with Emirati teenager Mohammed Al Mutawaa (House of Portier Corvette). Both have won twice during the course of the season and this battle looks set to rage through to the final round.

Simmonds will be sharing driving duties with vastly experienced and ultra- quick Phil Quaiffe, while Al Mutawaa will share the Corvette cockpit with young Czech ace Jiri Skula.

Looking to upset the form book will be the Khaleeji Motorsport pairing of Cabell Fisher and Khaled Al Thani at the wheel of the Ferrari F430.

Invariably the closest racing takes place in the GTC Class which makes up more than half the field and invariably delivers most of the action, with several contenders quite capable of taking maximum points on the day.

Robert Cregan in the GulfSport Maserati GT MC is the combination to beat, with the Irishman having stood on the top step of the podium three times out of four. Yas Marina is his "home" circuit and having won there in December will be determined to do the double this weekend.

Proving that consistency pays off is Cregan's team mate, young Lebanese star, Joe Ghanem (GulfSport Maserati GT MC) who has scored in all four rounds and lies second in the title chase. A win, which has eluded him as yet, to start off the new year will be high on Ghanem's agenda.

Paul Denby and Harris Irfan in the Alex Renner Motors Porsche have won once this year and most pundits expected them to be a force throughout the season, but a couple of no points scores has hurt them and they will be determined to turn around their season and challenge for top honours.

A host of other driver/team combinations are capable of upsetting the form book including the Moutran brothers Ramzi and Nabil in the SEAT Supercupra, a trio of Aston Martins with Humaid Al Masaood in the HMR car, Saeed Al Mehairi sharing the GT4 version with Tony Whittaker and John Iossifidis/Martin Baerschmidt duo in a Vantage. Others to watch are: Saad Salman in the KTM X-Bow and the Ginetta piloted by Khaled Al Mudhaf and Jan Vanmeerbeek.

The Cyetch UAE GT race starts 13.45pm and runs for 60 minutes, with teams having to make compulsory pit stops with optional driver changes.

-source: cytech uae g

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