Dubai, UAE, 13 February 2019: Junior racer Federico Al Rifai extended his winning streak starting from November 2018 to notch up his fourth successive Sodi World Series (SWS) victory on Monday night (11 February) at Dubai Kartdrome. Hussain Umid Ali was also in top form, earning his second SWS Senior Cup win in a row, and Greg Watt nabbed his first Masters category triumph for the year.
SWS Junior Cup Highlights
With arch rival Patrick Debattista moving up to the Senior division, Federico Al Rifai is in pole position to dominate the Junior Cup this year. However, Nathan Pope, Saeed Al Zarooni and Yashish Manohar have already picked up the gauntlet as viable challengers.
Pope struck first in qualifying, clocking in a best lap time of 1:22.228 and beating out Al Rifai by just three tenths of a second.
Al Rifai found more pace in heat one, getting ahead of the polesitter and sneaking across the finish line just 0.214 seconds in front of Pope. Yashish Manohar was another four seconds behind to claim third.
The battle between Al Rifai and Pope resumed in the next heat. Federico kept control of the race and the result was much the same as the first, another two tenths of a second margin of victory, leaving Pope to settle for another second-place finish. And this time it was Saeed Al Zarooni left to clean up the crumbs for third-place.
After the points of the two heats were tallied, Federico Al Rifai received the full 80 points available and the SWS Junior Cup winner’s trophy. Over the two hard-fought races only half a second total separated the two main contenders, which should give Nathan Pope (72 points, second-place) great incentive for the next round.
Yashish Manohar and Saeed Al Zarooni tied up on 63 points, but Manohar manged to secure third-place based on a better qualifying time.
SWS Senior Cup and Masters Highlights
Hussain Umid Ali has made a perfect start to the new year, going two-for-two in 2019. Ali picked up his first SWS trophy as part of the Dubai O Plate in January and he continued his winning ways on Monday night with a narrow victory over Maz Nawaz.
The Emirati driver entered the competition with a strong showing in qualifying, jumping to the top of timing screens with a best lap time of 1:14.907, pipping Anjum Shaikh to pole by just three hundredths of a second; this early result would prove pivotal to victory later on.
In heat one Shaikh dropped back in the ensuing clashes while Maz Nawaz and Atef Al Barwani moved up to challenge the leader. Ali hung on to the frontrunner position and crossed the finish line a mere 0.086 seconds in front of Nawaz.
Maz got his revenge in heat two, jumping in front and cruising in to take the chequered flag over one second ahead of Ali.
After points of the two heats were calculated, Hussain Umid Ali and Maz Nawaz were level with 76 points each. The early qualifying results gifted Ali with the SWS Senior Cup winner’s trophy and relegated Nawaz to the second spot on the podium. Atef Al Barwani secured third-place with 63 points.
Al Barwani has decided to return to Senior Cup competition following a commanding season in the Masters category. This has opened the door of opportunity for his previous rivals to finally collect some silverware.
Greg Watt wasted no time in filling the void left by the Emirati ace. Watt collected 39 points during the night, beating out Andrew Vieira by 3 points and collecting his first Masters trophy of the year. David Zavadescu made his first podium appearance by claiming third in the Masters category.
The next SWS Sprint Series round will take place on Monday night, 25 February 2019 at Dubai Kartdrome.
Report: Aaron Meriwether
Photos: CK Designs