Dubai, UAE, 28 January 2020: Over the past few years Swiss Dubai Team, representing Swiss International Scientific School, has featured regularly on the winner’s podium, but an overall Emirates Schools Karting Championship (ESKC) victory has eluded the talented squad—until last Monday night (27 January) at Dubai Kartdrome.
Enzo Al Azhari and Hakon Lees of Swiss Dubai Team (#23) finally seized an overall win and, in the process, have taken control of the ESKC Class championship going in the fourth and final round.
Ghost Racing Team 1 (#25), with drivers Samuel Garbutt and Mateo Moussaoui, struck back against their rivals and defending Nomad champions, VDR Racing (#14), by taking P2 overall and racking up valuable class points. Khalifa Al Qubaisi and Daniel Alves of VDR Racing were right behind in third and still maintain the upper hand going into the championship finale.
ESKC Senior RD3 Highlights
Hakon Lees did exactly what was needed in qualifying, clocking in a best lap of 1:11.188 and earning pole position for Swiss Dubai Team, pipping Dubai English Speaking College (DESC) Team 6 to the honours by 0.476 seconds.
However, the first few laps in the 75-minute endurance race would not be kind to the pole sitter. In rapid succession Lees was spun on two encounters, dropping the driver to twelfth on the first lap and down to a lowly eighteenth position by lap two—hardly the place to be in contention to win it all.
Despite the misfortunes in the opening laps, the experienced drivers of Swiss Dubai Team put their heads down and got to work, slowly working their way back up the field, and executing their pit stops to perfection as practiced. Veteran teams like Ghost Racing Team 1 and VDR Racing were quick to fill the front runner void as Swiss Dubai Team struggled to put themselves back into the contest.
The nature of endurance racing allows for many changes in the narrative and, sure enough, with a small bit of luck and a big dash of perseverance, Al Azhari and Lees had driven their hearts out back to the top.
When the chequered flag waved to end the round, Al Azhari crossed the finish line a remarkable 17.815 seconds ahead of the pack, taking the overall victory for Swiss Dubai Team for the very first time. Ghost Racing Team 1 was next up to claim P2, with Nomad rivals VDR Racing chasing behind to secure third overall.
The outright win and second ESKC category triumph put Swiss Dubai Team in control of the ESKC title race with a total of 98 championship points, leading Jumeirah College Team 1 on 84 points.
After receiving the winner’s trophy Enzo Al Azhari of Swiss Dubai Team was confident of his team’s chances for the final, although wary of the increased points on hand. He said, “Hopefully next round we can stay in first because it’s double points.”
The Nomad class victory by Ghost Racing Team 1 (94 points) takes the 2017-2018 champions within striking distance of defending 2018-2019 champs VDR Racing (100 points).
Both Senior championship titles will be on the line, with everything to play for on the 8th of March 2020, the fourth and deciding round of the Emirates Schools Karting Championship at Dubai Kartdrome.
Hakon Lees of Swiss Dubai Team also wanted to add, “All my prayers to the helicopter accident with Kobe Bryant and everything; it’s terrible. We should all value what we have.”
This reporter, having grown up in Los Angeles, was surprised and appreciative to hear such words from a Dubai student on the winner’s podium of a karting race.
Value what we have. Well spoken, young man. Another reminder of the great integrity and spirit of the students, teachers, officials and parents that makes the ESKC a special experience.
Report & Photos: Aaron Meriwether