Dubai, UAE, 21 January 2018: Top kart racers from the GCC and around the world packed into Dubai Kartdrome on Friday and Saturday (19-20 January) to challenge the two-day 2018 Dubai O Plate championship. A total of 101 drivers entered to compete for top honours and prizes, with nine champions crowned at the end.
2016 World CIK-FIA Karting Champion Pedro Hiltbrand was among the contenders, and the Spanish driver managed to nab the 2018 IAME X30 Shifter title over local favourites, but he failed to finish in his last race competing for the IAME X30 Senior category.
IAME X30 Shifter (ages 16+) & Shifter Veterans (ages 32+)
Multiple UAE kart champion Tom Bale appeared to have the Shifter contest under control after a convincing win by 1.132 seconds over Hiltbrand in the Pre-Final.
In the Grand Final, Bale got a clean getaway and led the pack, but Hiltbrand shadowed behind and waited patiently for an opportunity. That chance came in the final laps when Hiltbrand managed to jump ahead and sneak across the finish line just 0.404 seconds ahead of Bale to take the win. Saeed Al Ali chased behind the leaders to claim third.
Tony Hogg was top-of-class in the IAME X30 Shifter Veterans, followed by Alexandros Annivas.
IAME X30 Senior (ages 15+) & Masters (ages 30+)
Pedro Hiltbrand also competed in the largest and most competitive category of the day, a Senior/Masters grid crowded with 25 karts.
John Norris secured first place in the Pre-Final which handed Hiltbrand another P2 start for his second Grand Final of the day.
Norris obtained a great start and managed to put some distance ahead of Morgan Porter and Hiltbrand battling behind. While Porter and Hiltbrand slugged it out, the frontrunner position was never in danger.
Norris crossed the finish line for a comfortable win, Hiltbrand spun out on the final corner of the final lap and Porter grabbed second place. With Hiltbrand out of the race, Morin Hannes was gifted the third and final spot on the podium.
Dario Rubio was top-of-class in the IAME X30 Masters, followed by Ekaterina Kazakova.
IAME X30 Junior (ages 12-15)
The Juniors experienced a tumultuous final in which nine karts didn’t finish, and it was Constantin Reisch who kept out of trouble and emerged from the chaos to claim the title.
On paper Reisch made it look easy, winning the Pre-Final by over half of a second ahead of Kyle Kumaran and then on to take the chequered flag in the Grand Final by almost two seconds ahead of Mark Van der Kamp. Khaled Saab trailed Van der Kamp by just 0.647 seconds to collect third.
IAME X30 Cadet (ages 8-12) & Cadet Rookie (ages 8-10)
Seif Al Naggar did everything he could to chase Keanu Al Azhari down, but Al Azhari was simply unstoppable the entire weekend.
Keanu went from pole position to victory in the Pre-Final, and then controlled the Grand Final with precision, crossing the finish line 0.607 seconds ahead of Al Naggar.
Hamza Al Fayez secured a third place Cadet finish, but still managed to claim an O-Plate as the top Cadet Rookie, ahead of Zaid Haddad in second and Maximilian Dexter in third.
Rotax Max Micro (ages 8-11)
Rotax may have had only one category on the weekend, but the Micro racers served up one of the best race finishes on Saturday, with William Wade taking victory by the slimmest of margins.
Wade put himself in great position early on by winning the Pre-Final over Danny Shields, but in the Grand Final, Wade would have to dig deep to fend off formidable challenges by Shields and Harry Hannam.
The final race was decided on the last corner of the last lap with Wade, Shields and Hannam all coming around turn seventeen and into the main straight together. Wade held on to take the win by a hair’s width, just 0.129 seconds over Shields. Hannam was another 0.052 seconds back to claim third.
IAME Bambino Cup (ages 5-8)
British racer Maison Rudman won two out of four time-trial heats on the way to an O-Plate victory.
Riley Cranham topped heat number one by a slim 0.314 seconds over Rudman, but after that the next three heats were battled out by Rudman and Zachary Stimpson. The two drivers put in very close times, but Rudman managed to nab heats two and four while Stimpson claimed heat three.
When the final points of the four heats were tallied, Maison Rudman was crowned IAME Bambino champion with 190 points. He also clocked in the fastest lap of the day at 1:14.884.
Zachary Stimpson put in a good fight but had to settle for second place silverware with 181 points. Riley Cranham earned third place on 166 points.
After racing concluded Dubai Kartdrome Manager David Bright said, “The 2018 edition was another Dubai O Plate success that boasted AED 250,000 in sponsor prizes. This helped attract a large contingent of drivers including world champ Pedro Hiltbrand.”
“It was fantastic to see drivers who had started their careers here at Dubai Kartdrome challenging top racers from overseas,” Bright added, “I’d like to thank all of our sponsors and race officials for making this championship a world-class event.”
Report: Aaron Meriwether
Photos: Darren Rycroft & Aaron Meriwether