Dubai, UAE, 11 March: It was a night of heartbreak for Dubai English Speaking College (DESC) Team 6 and Ghost Racing, as both teams suffered collapse in defense of their championship titles in the fourth and final round of the 2018-2019 Emirates Schools Karting Championship (ESKC) Senior division at Dubai Kartdrome on Sunday (10 March).
After securing pole position and fastest lap of the race for VDR Racing, Khalifa Al Qubaisi emerged as the hero of the team to finally topple three-time Nomad Cup champion, Ghost Racing. Al Qubaisi and his teammates Jordy Van Dort and Daniel Alves did everything required to succeed, going from pole to victory to win ESKC Senior Round Four and claim the 2018-2019 Nomad Cup title with 162 championship points, pipping Ghost Racing by two points (160 points).
Jumeirah College, with drivers David Zandieh and Eliot Jones, placed fifth overall to finish with 156 championship points, which was just enough to clinch the 2018-2019 ESKC Challenge title and deny the defending champion, DESC Team 6, by a single championship point (155 points).
Round Four Highlights
Trailing by eight championship points to the defending champion after three rounds, Khalifa Al Qubaisi, Jordy Van Dort and Daniel Alves of VDR Racing knew they had to dig deep and execute flawlessly in the last round to have any hope of upsetting the Nomad juggernaut of Ghost Racing 1, led by Sameer Mohideen and Samuel Garbutt.
Al Qubaisi immediately seized the challenge and took the fight to his rivals; his best lap time of 1:10.438 in qualifying topped all 21 teams and handed VDR Racing pole position for the final endurance race.
Ghost Racing 1 was only two tenths of second off the leader’s pace in qualifying, which put the team on P2—good enough to challenge for the race and defend the title.
The first ESKC class team to line up was DESC Team 6 in third position. Jaden Taylor and Thomas Raw would need to erase a sizeable 15 championship point lead from Jumeirah College to have any chance to defend the ESKC Challenge title, and with the defending champs qualifying way down in eighth place, DESC Team 6 had good reason to be optimistic.
Winning endurance races requires a good mix of speed, stamina and strategy to succeed, and over the course of 90 minutes of karting in the final race of the season, VDR Racing and DESC Team 6 seemed to get everything right.
Daniel Alves of VDR Racing said, “It was quite close with Ghost (Racing) until the end when we managed to pull out a big gap.”
VDR Racing needed to win big and hope Ghost Racing 1 was not close enough to earn the points to close out the Nomad Championship. The team’s ambitions would ultimately doom the efforts of DESC Team 6.
Qualifying was rough on Jumeirah College, but the team clawed its way back into contention in the race, passing two teams to settle in behind the kart of DESC Team 3. Ghost Racing 1 lost its position to DESC Team 6 and was unable to recover it by the end of the contest.
After 67 laps on the 1.2-kilometre International Circuit at Dubai Kartdrome, Al Qubaisi crossed the finish line to take the chequered flag, a full 40.424 seconds ahead of the field. DESC Team held on for second-place overall, but it was not enough, as well for as Ghost Racing 1 finishing third, which turned out to be one position short of where it needed to be.
Zandieh and Jones drove the Jumeirah College kart from eighth position up to fifth overall, which allowed the team to escape with a single point margin over DESC Team 6 and take the 2018-2019 ESKC Challenge title.
With a best lap time of 1:10.197 during the race, Al Qubaisi earned two crucial fastest lap points, to put VDR Racing over the top and, after three years of trying, to finally de-throne Ghost Racing as the kings of the Nomad Cup.
Khalifa played down his important contribution to VDR Racing’s winning campaign. He stressed, “It feels great to win as a team.”
2018-2019 Senior ESKC Challenge Top Three
- Jumeirah College (156 points)
- DESC Team 6 (155 points)
- Swiss International Scientific School in Dubai (SISD) Senior (134 points)
2018-2019 Senior ESKC Nomad Cup Top Three
- VDR Racing (162 points)
- Ghost Racing 1 (160 points)
- Ghost Racing 2 (141 points)
Report and photos: Aaron Meriwether