Round one of the Ramadan Challenge karting sprint series kicked off on a cool Monday night (13 June) at the Dubai Kartdrome in MotorCity.
Rami Azzam, Kamal Agha and Mohammed Ismail Ali were the big winners on the opening round of the fifth edition of the series.
The evening commenced with racing at the Indoor Circuit for the new Junior Cup category, open to kart racers between 7 and 14 years old. The event format comprised two groups of elimination races, with the top five drivers of each group earning spots in the Grand Final. The Last Chance Final also gave the eliminated drivers one more shot at making it into the final race, with only the top two of that group gaining slots.
When engines roared to life and the green flag dropped, Kamal Agha quickly asserted control of the proceedings and never let go. Nearly flawless driving saw him take pole position in qualifying and then go on to win three races in a row, including the Grand Final.
The fight for the second podium spot was a different matter. Samir Malas and Danny Shields battled back and forth in the last race with Samir eventually pulling ahead and claiming second place 2.899 seconds behind Kamal.
When the Junior Cup finished up at the Indoor Circuit of the Dubai Kartdrome, the Senior Cup drivers fired up their engines at the Outdoor Circuit with a full grid of 31 drivers.
In contrast to the Juniors, every race for the Seniors was hotly contested, with Saeed Al Mehairi signalling his intent by snagging pole position with a qualifying time of 1.12.532.
Saeed couldn’t keep the top spot though, as both Rami Azzam and Hussain Umid Ali passed him up to take first and second in race one. Less than two seconds separated the top five drivers at the finish.
In race two, it was Atef Al Barwani who stole the win just .189 seconds ahead of Azzam, followed closely by Hussain Umi Ali.
For the last race it was yet another driver, Romaldo Labrooy, claiming first position by keeping ahead of Rami by a sheer .408 seconds.
The Senior Cup round is determined by tallying points for each race and in the end it was reliable placing that paid off for Azzam, earning him a round one victory on the night. “Just consistency, that’s the best thing you can do in these races,” said Rami.
In the Masters group, a sub-category of the Senior Cup, it was Mohammed Ismail Ali who garnered top honours.
Ramadan Challenge Race Director David Bright said, “With the new race format proving to be a success, we’re very pleased with the extremely close racing throughout the night.”
The series normally attracts the best leisure kart racers in the region, with prizes awarded to the top three drivers in each category at the end of four rounds. The crowning prize for the Senior Cup Champion is a fully funded Rotax or Iame race weekend, courtesy of Energy Karts Dubai.
The Junior Cup Champion will also be rewarded with a fully funded race weekend of Rotax or Iame, courtesy of CRG Middle East.
Kart racers of all ages will contest for a host of prizes awarded at the end of four rounds on Sunday, 3 July 2016.
2016 Ramadan Challenge Schedule (all rounds at Dubai Kartdrome)
• Round 2: Sunday, 19 June 2016
• Round 3: Sunday, 26 June 2016
• Round 4: Sunday, 3 July 2016