Dubai, UAE, 15 December 2018: After 24 hours and 1,092 gruelling laps of endurance karting around the Hill Circuit at Dubai Kartdrome, Portuguese driver Andre Caiado crossed the finish line to take the chequered flag for Bin Drai Karting Team to put the finishing touches on a perfect season of the 2018 Endurance Championship and the team’s first Pro Championship title on Saturday (15 December).
Bin Drai Karting Team managed the difficult feat of winning all four rounds of the 2018 Dubai Kartdrome Endurance Championship, and drivers Andre Caiado, Miguel Neto, Duarte Lopes and Anjum Shaikh were rewarded with the team’s first Pro Championship trophy.
In the Corporate category, Dany Hokayem, Jiby Kuriakose, John Barsi and Mohd Zubair of the defending Corporate squad, Team Emirates, orchestrated a remarkable comeback to upset leaders LD Russia and nab the 2018 Corporate Championship trophy, making it the third year in a row that an Emirates team has held the title.
Veteran drivers Dmitriy Levin, Konstantin Mandrikov, Viktor Agafonov and Marat Gubaidullin of LD Russia narrowly missed out on Corporate honours but the team was aiming for two categories, and the Russians were still able to secure the 2018 Nations Cup.
24-Hour Endurance Race
Cambridge Middle East Interiors lost advantage of pole position with Emirates PRO moving up from third to take control in the opening laps. For the next hour is was a constant battle between Emirates PRO and Bin Drai Karting Team for the front-runner spot, with each team never getting the lead over the other by more than a second.
After 150 laps Bin Drai Karting Team found better race pace and settled in to take control of the contest, slowing building a lead on the rest of the pack. Just before midnight, Bin Drai had opened up a ten second gap over Cambridge Middle East Interiors.
Meanwhile, defending Corporate champion, Team Emirates, having been disqualified from a penalty in the qualifying sprint race and was forced to start in P27 for the endurance race, hardly a choice position to take the battle to LD Russia.
However, LD Russia was having problems of its own, having started fifth on the grid for the endurance race, it had dropped down to eleventh by mid-race.
After 509 laps, drivers Jorg Muller, Sebastian Rumpelhardt, Robert Schlunssen and Marcel Schirmer of 69er Racers took over the Nations Cup lead from Pafbet Openkart Latvia. The German squad would maintain the position until the end of the race.
By morning, pit stop strategy was coming into play, and the experienced teams on the grid started to rise to the top of the leader board. There was a flurry of pit stops before noon as the end of the race approached.
Bin Drai Karting Team Strategist Mihajlo Mulaji explained, “We knew the race takes 24 hours, so we didn’t rush any decisions and it was really good team spirit. We all made decisions, all together, so the team really functioned liked clockwork.”
Bin Drai Karting Team had executed its strategy with precision, putting Andre Caiado in a position to maintain the lead and then take the win with a full lap to spare over Emirates PRO.
WEK-World Endurance Karting and Superdryver Olexco were the next two Pro teams to finish, taking third and fourth overall.
Polesitter Cambridge Middle East Interiors claimed fifth place and 69er Racers placed sixth, making it the top Nations Cup finisher.
The first Corporate team to roll in was Team Emirates in seventh overall, an impressive run that witnessed the team move up 20 places in the race and take the 2018 Corporate crown.
Redza Jamil of Team Emirates had words for his drivers before their incredible run. Before the race he told them, “It’s a long race, it’s 24 hours, a lot of things can happen. Don’t worry about it.”
After the race he said, “We just had to put our heads down and just keep focusing on every single lap. The boys did a really good job.”
LD Russia remained in eleventh place by the end the contest. The Russians may have been disappointed to lose out on the Corporate title, but the team’s efforts throughout the year was enough to earn the 2018 Nations Cup trophy, a partner for the other Nations Cup award they won back in 2016.
Dubai Kartdrome Manager David Bright said, “It was an amazing finale to the season with Bin Drai Karting Team fully deserving of the overall win. Congratulations to Team Emirates for the comeback class victory to defend their Corporate crown and to LD Russia for earning another Nations Cup.”
“I’d also like to say well done to the student drivers of the Emirates School Karting Championship, who took part in their first 24-hour endurance race. These future stars of racing did an admirable job on their first go.”
With four-out-of-four victories and the maximum 180 championship points, Bin Drai Karting Team made a difficult task look easy to lift its first Pro Championship trophy. Cambridge Middle East Interiors was always in contention, but by the final round the team settled with second-place and 135 points. Emirates PRO rounded out the 2018 Pro podium by claiming third-place with 120 points.
Team Emirates racked up 166 points over the four rounds, leapfrogging LD Russia (163 points) to the 2018 Corporate Championship by a mere three points. Another Emirates squad, Fly Emirates, ran up 118 points to secure the third step on the 2018 Corporate podium.
It was a hard-fought campaign for LD Russia in the Corporate category, but for the 2018 Nations Cup the Russians were thoroughly dominate, collecting 160 championship points to take first-place. Prudent Motorsports India managed half of that, 80 points, for second-place and the Omani team of Omantel Makasib 2 earned third-place with 70 points.
Report: Aaron Meriwether
Photos: Arthur Rosales and Aaron Meriwether