Dubai, UAE, 28 April 2018: After 600 laps and over 13 hours of kart racing, Duarte Lopes of Bin Drai Karting Team crossed the finish line less than 16 seconds ahead of Emirates Pro to hold on for the win in Round Two of the Dubai Kartdrome Endurance Championship on Saturday (28 April).
Emirates Pro narrowly missed out on victory but its partner team, Team Emirates, finished in fifth position, which was enough to take top honours in the Corporate category.
The all-Russian squad of LD Russia fought off vigorous challenges from the Omani drivers of Omantel Makasib 2 to clinch the Nations Cup.
Mohammad Matar of Emirates Pro put in the decisive lap on the new Links Circuit at Dubai Kartdrome to get his team on pole position. The brand-new configuration was quite a challenge for all 34 teams on the grid, and only three team dipped below the 1:15 mark in qualifying.
Matar secured pole for Emirates Pro with a best lap time of 1:14.406, followed closely by Cambridge Middle East Group in P2 and last round’s winner, Bin Drai Karting Team in P3. LD Russia clocked in at fifth position, which was good enough to top the Corporate and Nations Cup categories. Slotting in at P9, the starting point for Team Emirates was less than ideal.
Tom Soubiron, Arjun Manjunath, Fabio Paoleschi and Mohammad Matar of Emirates Pro managed to hold on to the lead in the opening hours of the contest but Bin Drai Karting Team eventually caught up to the pole-sitters and took control of the race.
Bin Drai Team Manager Pedja Jakovljevic reflected, “After the first couple of hours we were leading but then later on we got a yellow zone penalty.”
The penalty dropped Bin Drai down into second-place and Emirates Pro again assumed command. Pit stop strategies were calculated and the top three teams knew it would be close at the end.
“The drama was there, honestly, until the last 25 laps and we weren’t sure if we were first, second or third,“ said Jakovljevic.
In the final minutes of the race, Bin Drai Karting Team, Emirates Pro and Dubai Falcon Racing Team were all on the same lap and capable of getting the overall win.
Duarte Lopes of Bin Drai Karting Team kept his cool and held on for victory, taking the chequered flag 15.970 seconds ahead of Emirates Pro. Another 18.943 seconds adrift, Dubai Falcon Racing Team claimed third-place.
Bin Drai Karting Team, with drivers Duarte Lopes, Andre Caiado, Miguel Neto and Pedja Jakovljevic, secured its second victory in a row and now leads the Pro class championship.
Bin Drai Team Manager Pedja Jakovljevic said, “I think the spirit of our team helps us. We help each other to be positive and motivated to drive.”
Drivers Jiby Kuriakose, John Barsi, Mohd Zubair and Dany Hokayem secured another class win for Team Emirates, which is successfully defending its 2017 Corporate title. LD Russia, with drivers Dmitry Levin, Konstantin Mandrikov and Victor Agafonov, is the now the current Nations Cup leader.
Two more rounds of the Endurance Championship remain, with Round Three taking place at Dubai Kartdrome on 19-20 October 2018.
Report: Aaron Meriwether
Photos: Darren Rycroft