Dubai, UAE, 23 November 2019: In a battle of GT heavyweights, Dragon Racing captain Leon Price and his Ferrari 488 GT3 (#88) muscled two race victories away from the Lamborghini Huracan ST (#77) of teammate Jim Geddie in the second round of the NGK UAE ProCar Championship at Dubai Autodrome on Friday (22 November).
The NGK UAE ProCars featured alongside three other race series as part of the MRF Challenge Race Weekend (21-22 November), which included National Sportsbike Super Series, the Radical Gulf Cup and the headliner, MRF Challenge from India.
NGK UAE ProCar Championship Manager Dominic Simon said, “We had a great start to the 2019-20 motorsport season here at Dubai Autodrome with the return of the MRF Challenge, and support races featuring the Gulf Radical, newly founded National Sportsbike Super Series and of course our own NGK UAE ProCar Championship.”
NGK UAE ProCar Highlights
Geddie’s Lamborghini was quickest early on, clocking in a best lap time 2:03.888 to top all cars in qualifying, which was a full second and half faster than Price’s best lap in the Dragon Racing Ferrari.
The Mouhrista Racing TCR Cupra Leon (#1) of Costas Papantonis clocked in at 2:12.049, a nine-tenths of second advantage over teammate Alexandros Annivas (#9), to claim P3 and lead the TCR category.
Jon Simmonds of Motorsport Wheels lined up in fifth on the grid behind the wheel of a striking BMW E30 M3 (#44) to lead all Trophy Class vehicles, and Rahil Taneja (#10) of AUH Motorsports took the sixth spot to secure the front of the Renault Clio Cup pack. Swiss driver Nidal Baumgartner (#20) was the top Trophy-TRD qualifier.
Jim Geddie’s Huracan got off the line well to start the first of two 30-minute races, with Price, Papantonis and Annivas chasing behind.
Geddie appeared to have secured a nice gap over the field but Price’s Ferrari was slowly reeling in the other Dragon Racing GTA Class car. By the mid-point in the race, captain Leon hunted down and overtook the Lamborghini to take control of the contest.
Behind the Dragon cars the two Greek drivers of Papantonis and Annivas locked horns in a close battle for TCR supremacy, while the BMW of Jon Simmonds found a quiet patch of tarmac in between the TCRs and the rest of the field.
Price took the chequered flag over a second ahead of Geddie to win the first race, followed by Papantonis to take third and top the TCR Class.
Simmonds claimed fifth overall, but well ahead of the next Trophy Class driver, Colin Linklater (#40) of AUH Motorsports.
Rahil Taneja lost his lead to Mohammed Abdulghaffar Hussain (#76) of Rent2Race in the Clio Cup Class. Hussain finished sixth overall to top the Clio Cup field. Emirati driver Saif Alameri (#7) of PP-PERFORMANCE piloted his Toyota GT86 to the top of the Trophy-TRD category for a class win.
In the second race Geddie was again quick off the line, but this time his Lamborghini was not in proper formation on the race gird, and the British driver was hit with a five-second Race Start Infringement, which would prove critical down the stretch.
The TCR Cupra Leon and Seat Leon Cup Racer of Mouhrista Racing once more fought for GTA leftovers, while Jon Simmond’s E30 didn’t start the second race, which opened up a hole in the grid for the Clios to jump in, with Hussain leading the way.
With two laps remaining, Jim Geddie’s Huracan had a 5.858 seconds gap over his teammate’s Ferrari, just enough for victory, but at the chequered flag Leon Price had closed the divide to take another victory, taking advantage by a mere 1.282 seconds.
Defending TCR champion Papantonis secured third overall and wrapped up another TCR Class win. Rent2Race driver Mohammed Abdulghaffar Hussain was next across the line to triumph once more in the Clio Cup category.
Colin Linklater of AUH Motorsports took advantage of Simmond’s M.I.A. to claim the Trophy Class honours and Emirati driver Ahmad Almoosa (#11) topped the Trophy-TRD category after his PP-PERFORMANCE teammate, Saif Alameri, failed to finish the race.
Airlink International Driver of the Day
Emirati Clio Cup driver Sultan Al Suwaidi of AUH Motorsports was awarded the Airlink International Driver of the Day and went home with an extra AED 1,000 in his pocket for his efforts.
Simon remarked, “We saw massive grids in all categories and we are especially proud to have strong local talent on the grid in the NGK UAE ProCar Championship with Sultan Al Suwaidi, who moved up from SWS kart racing at Dubai Kartdrome to racing Touring Cars, as well as Ahmad Almoosa, Saif Alameri and Mohammed Hussain.”
“We always try to bridge the gap between the Kartdrome and Main Track and hope that Sultan’s strong results in his first race weekend, in which he achieved two podium finishes and was named Airlink International Driver of the Day, will inspire young drivers.”
Report: Aaron Meriwether
Photos: Aaron Meriwether & Arthur Rosales