Dubai, UAE, 9 December 2017: Track action continued on Saturday at Dubai Autodrome with two more races of MRF Challenge, the NGK 3HR Enduro and the 100th race of the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East.
Despite technical difficulties on Friday, Brazilian driver Felipe Drugovich bagged two out of four races during the weekend to extend his championship lead over Presley Martono and Rinus van Kalmthout.
Having suffered an electrical failure in race two, Drugovich made a comeback in race three on Saturday, having another close battle with Martono. The Brazilian held on for the win, crossing the finish line just 0.760 seconds in front of the Indonesian driver.
A determined Martono stormed back in the final race of the weekend, vindicating earlier setbacks. He finally emerged from his scuffles with Drugovich to secure a maiden win for the season. Drugovich was a mere 0.701 seconds back to nab second-place.
The two race wins and a podium finish gave Felipe Drugovich a boost of points to protect his championship lead. He currently sits on top of the leaderboard on 150 points, followed by Presley Martono with 132 points, and third-place Rinus van Kalmthout on 124 points.
Championship leader Felipe Drugovich, commented, “Today was a really good day so I am very happy to extend my championship lead. Especially after we had that problem yesterday, today’s win was sweet. I really enjoy driving on this circuit.”
Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East
The renowned series marked its 99th and 100th races at Dubai Autodrome during the weekend, and the spoils were split between Omani driver Al Faisal Al Zubair and Tom Oliphant of Great Britain.
On Friday Al Zubair got the better of Oliphant, but on Saturday the British driver struck back.
Race two was more combative, and this time it was Oliphant who emerged victorious, just 0.707 seconds in front of Al Zubair. Wolfgang Triller of Germany trailed in for third-place for the second race in a row.
The win for Oliphant is his second victory in the opening four races of the twelve-race championship and extends his lead in the drivers’ standings to 6 points over Al Zubair. Both drivers remain locked at the top of the championship, with the battle expected to continue in 2018 when the series returns to Dubai Autodrome on 26-27 January. The top three drivers in the championship are Oliphant with 96 points, Al Zubair on 90 points, and Charile Frijns with 72 points.
Afterwards Oliphant remarked, “I’m really pleased, and to win the 100th race in the championship is a real honour. We now move on with the championship lead going into the winter break and hope to come back to Dubai in the new year just as strong!”
Reflection on the occasion, founder Walter Lechner said: “I am humble and proud to witness our 100th race. Tom is a worthy winner. But I honestly feel the most satisfying aspect of this moment is the fact that the sport is winning. The energy and momentum behind the championship feels unstoppable. These are special days.”
NGK 3HR Enduro
The Dragon Racing Ferrari 458 GT3, driven by Rob Barff and Jordan Grogor, went from pole to victory on the final race on Saturday.
After three hours of endurance racing, the number 88 Ferrari crossed the finish line having completed 82 laps on the Grand Prix Circuit, winning Class Three and the overall contest. They cruised in with sizeable gap of almost two minutes over fellow Dragon Racing teammates Jim Geddie and Matt Griffin, driving another Ferrari.
Class One belonged to Lap57, with Ashan Silva and Nader Zuhour and their Honda TCR taking a class win over Mohammed Al Owais and Abdulla Al Hammadi driving an Audi TCR.
Will Morrison and Julian Griffin topped Class Two as the sole surviving vehicle of the Renault Clio Cup cars on track, while Jeff Curtis and James Edmeades drove their Radical SR3 home to claim Class Six.
Wolfgang Triller ran from the Porsche GT3 Cup podium to join up with Christoffer Bergstroem for the Enduro. The two drivers got Triller back on the podium by taking a Class Four victory over the Duel Racing Porsche 911 Cup Car driven by the Moutran brothers, Ramzi, Nabil and Sami.
Article: Aaron Meriwether
Photos: Darren Rycroft & Aaron Meriwether