ROUND TWO SENIOR CUP TRIUMPH FOR AL BARWANI
Rubio wins Masters Class and Agha collects Junior Cup
Dubai, UAE, 6 June 2017: Five-time Sodi World Series (SWS) UAE Champion and 2015 Ramadan Challenge title holder Atef Al Barwani returned to form with a stunning Round Two Senior Cup victory at Dubai Kartdrome on Monday night (5 June). Dario Rubio topped the Masters category of the Senior Cup and Kamal Agha scored double wins to take home the Junior Cup.
Senior Cup & Masters
After an incredible run of five dominant years in the SWS ending in 2015, local karting legend Atef Al Barwani had been out of the spotlight this past year. Now it appears the Emirati is back in top form.
Al Barwani couldn’t quite get up to speed during the qualifying session, finishing fourth on the timing screens, while defending Ramadan Challenge champion, Rami Azzam, cruised through the session, posting the best lap time of 1:11.485 and securing pole position.
In Race One Al Barwani worked his way up to the leaders and patiently waited for an opportunity to strike. He remarked, “I was a bit lucky because two drivers in front were fighting so I said, ‘Let me just wait until the last lap because I know something is going to happen.’”
He took advantage of the scuffle to dive ahead on turn two, taking the lead and holding on until the chequered flag, just 0.652 seconds ahead of Azzam. Hussain Umid Ali took third.
Race Two featured a reverse grid for the top 15 drivers of Race One, which put Al Barwani and Azzam in the middle of the grid to start the next race. This did little to deter either driver, as both of them picked their way through the field and toward the front.
Romaldo Labrooy also had a great run, moving from eighth on the grid and into the lead. He got well clear of Azzam and Al Barwani and glided in for the race win, crossing the finish line 3.484 seconds in front of Azzam, with Al Barwani another 2.055 seconds back in third place.
After the points were tallied from both races, Atef Al Barwani’s total of 73 points gave him a one point victory over Rami Azzam on 72 points. Romaldo Labrooy earned third place with 67 points.
On the winner’s podium Al Barwani was full of praise for his fellow competitors, “I always learn a thing or two from these guys; it’s always a privilege to race against them.”
In the Masters category of the Senior Cup, Dario Rubio was outstanding in both races, finishing the night on 52 points to take top class honours, three points clear of Mohammed Ismail in second place with 49, with Gianluca Elmosi taking third on 44 points.
Competing against the top international SWS Junior racers at the 2017 SWS World Finals last week (25-27 May) put Kamal Agha in top form for his return to Dubai. Despite a mediocre result in qualifying, Agha went two-for-two when it really mattered, taking both races and the win for the night.
The Al Azhari brothers set the pace early on, with Keanu Al Azhari leaping to the top of the timing screens with a red hot lap time of 1:19.090, the only driver to dip below the 1:20 mark. Enzo Al Azhari was 0.354 seconds off the pace to secure second on the grid.
After the start lights blinked out for Race One, Keanu was unable to convert his pole position into victory. He and his brother Enzo dropped back, while Kamal Agha, starting from fourth on the grid, and Alex Wareing, starting from sixth, made an impressive run to compete for the lead.
Agha showed great pace, plucking the frontrunner position and breaking away from the pack. He crossed the finish line a full 6.024 seconds ahead of Wareing, with Keanu trailing behind in third place.
Race Two featured a reverse grid for the top ten drivers of Race One, which meant Agha had to start in tenth and Wareing in ninth. From the outset Agha worked his way up the grid order, while Wareing struggled in the middle of the pack.
This time all three of the Al Azhari brothers—Keanu, Enzo and Adam—moved up to challenge for the lead. A red flag incident cut the race short by two laps and Agha was fortunate to get ahead and hang on for the win, just 0.243 seconds ahead of Keanu, with Enzo picking up third.
When the points from the two races were calculated, Kamal Agha had the maximum 80 points and the Round Two Junior Cup victory. On 69 points Keanu Al Azhari had to settle for second place for the second round in a row. Alex Wareing secured the third step of the podium with 63 points.
Round Three of the 2017 Ramadan Challenge will take place next Monday night, 12 June 2017 at Dubai Kartdrome.
Report & Photos: Aaron Meriwether