SENIOR CUP VICTORY FOR AZZAM IN FIRST ROUND OF 2017 SWS RAMADAN CHALLENGE

  • Elmosi tops Masters and White makes Junior Cup history

Defending champ Rami Azzam returned to Dubai Kartdome to take an emphatic first round win in the Sodi World Series (SWS) Ramadan Challenge on Monday night (29 May) with Gianluca Elmosi dominating the Masters category and newcomer Katherine White stunning the field with a historic Junior Cup victory.

With prizes on offer for the championship, the popular series was booked out two weeks in advance, with the Senior Cup and Junior Cup categories filling their grids to start the first of four rounds.

Senior Cup & Masters The qualifying session was tightly packed with thirty Senior Cup and Masters drivers eager to set the tone for Round One.  Following a ten minute flurry of Sodi RX8 karts buzzing around the 1.2 kilometre International Circuit, it was Rami Azzam who got the job done, topping the timing screens with a best lap time of 1:11.308.

Azzam started on pole but it was Ramin Arnecke who made the most of Race One, shooting up from fourth on the grid to steal the lead and then the chequered flag, crossing the finish line a full 4.074 seconds ahead of Azzam.  Atef Barwani trailed in for third place.

Unlike other SWS rounds, the Ramadan Challenge features a reverse grid for the top and bottom halves of the finishing positions from Race One, which dropped Arnecke down to fifteenth and Azzam to fourteenth to start the next race.

Undeterred by the reverse order, Arnecke and Azzam battled their way up the field in Race Two, passing drivers on every lap.  Azzam got the upper hand, taking the chequered flag 1.674 seconds ahead of Arnecke.  Barwani again had to settle for third.

At the end of the night Azzam and Arnecke were level with 76 points each but Azzam won the tie-break due to his higher qualifying position.  Barwani claimed third on 66 points.

Having finished tenth overall in the SWS World Finals last weekend (25-27 May) in Paris, Rami Azzam was earnest to return to Dubai and get back work.

He said: “It’s a good thing to arrive this morning, back here, straight back into the kart and straight back on the podium. I won it last year.  I had to come back and show them I can do it again.”

In the Masters category of the Senior Cup Gianluca Elmosi had a strong showing, finishing the night on 51 points to take top honours, six points clear of Mohammed Ismail in second place on 45, with Carsten Winter taking third on 38.

Junior Cup Visiting Dubai on holiday from the United Kingdom, guest racer Katherine White managed to upset the local favourites with a pair of commanding wins, and in the process made Dubai Kartdrome history as the first female Junior Cup driver to win an SWS event.

The first round of the Junior Cup competition turned into a clash of tribes, as driver siblings from four families dominated the proceedings.  One of the three competing Al Azhari brothers, Enzo, was the first to strike, nailing a best lap of 1:20.126 in qualifying, earning him pole position.

When the start lights blinked out for Race One, Enzo Al Azhari jumped off the line and took control of the opening laps but Katherine White, who started from second on the grid, quickly reeled him in.  White swiped the lead, and while Al Azhari dropped back, his brother Keanu Al Azhari moved up to challenge.

Neither of the Al Azhari brothers could match White’s pace though and she coasted in for the win, 3.069 seconds ahead of Keanu, leaving Maxime Dubos to claim third.

Race Two featured a reverse grid of the top ten drivers from Race One. Starting in tenth place on the grid did not deter White when the lights went out.  She methodically picked her way up the field, with her younger sister Jessica drafting just behind.

Now all three Al Azhari brothers—Enzo, Keanu and Adam—were at the front to challenge the White sisters.  Jessica was forced to drop back but Katherine battled on to take another win, just 0.604 seconds in front of Enzo, while his brother Keanu collected third.

After the points were tallied, newcomer Katherine White was the clear victor with two race wins and 80 points.  Keanu Al Azhari took home second place silverware with a total of 69 points and his brother Enzo picked up third with 66 points.

On the winner’s podium Katherine White said, “I’m so happy.  I didn’t expect to win anything tonight.”

Ramadan Challenge Race Director, David Bright commented, “This first round of 2017 delivered plenty of racing thrills, with bumper to bumper action and a surprise historic win in the Junior Cup.  I can’t wait to see how this plays out over the next three rounds.”

Round Two of the Ramadan Challenge will take place at the Dubai Kartdrome on Monday night, 5 June 2017.