Dubai, UAE, 18 December 2018: Federico Al Rifai picked up his third SWS Junior Cup win in a row to edge out arch rival Patrick Debattista on Monday night (17 December) for the final Sodi World Series (SWS) sprint round of the year. Maz Nawaz came out on top of a close battle with Romaldo Labrooy to grab a Senior Cup victory and Atef Al Barwani completed his demolition job of the Masters field with an unprecedented 14th class triumph.
SWS Junior Cup
A great karting rivalry between Federico Al Rifai and Patrick Debattista closed out the year and looks to be a promising spectacle to resume in 2019.
There’s not too much that separates the two drivers and both Al Rifai and Debattista know how to win. This year Debattista got the better of Al Rifai by a ratio of seven to five in SWS Junior Cup victories, but Debattista hasn’t picked up a win since October while Al Rifai has knocked down the last three.
It should be a tantalizing matchup for 2019, which with was highlighted with extremely close racing between the two drivers in the final round of 2018.
Al Rifai started well in qualifying, jumping to the top of timing screens with a best lap time of 1:19.941 on the Reverse International Circuit at Dubai Kartdrome, getting the edge on Debattista by just eight hundredths of a second.
In heat one Yashish Manohar moved up from P3 to take second position from Debattista and Al Rifai took full advantage of pole to stay in control of the contest and seize the win by 4.236 seconds over Manohar.
Patrick stormed back in heat two to challenge Federico down the stretch. The two drivers were side by side spilling into the final corner on the last lap. Somehow Federico Al Rifai pushed his kart ahead by a hair’s width, crossing the finish line with only 0.008 seconds to spare over Patrick Debattista.
It wasn’t easy, but Al Rifai managed to go two-for-two and grab the maximum 80 points to take first-place. Debattista put up a great fight throughout the night but had to settle for 69 points and second-place. Consistent top-five finishes for Nathan Pope earned him 63 points and the third step on the SWS Junior Cup podium.
SWS Senior Cup & Masters
It was another close contest in the Senior Cup with Maz Nawaz picking up his fifth win of the year after a narrow victory over Romaldo Labrooy.
Labrooy was hot early on, topping a full grid of 35 karts in qualifying with a best lap time of 1:12.416 to earn pole position. Hussain Umid Ali was 0.287 off the leader’s pace to settle into P2 while Maz Nawaz produced a top time of 1:13.262 to line up in fourth position for heat one.
Romaldo didn’t waste the advantage of pole; he kept in front of Ali and Nawaz, opening up a decent gap of almost four seconds by the end of the race and taking the win over Ali. Duarte Lopes went from P3 to finish fifth and Nawaz took his place to finish third.
Labrooy lost pace in the second heat, dropping all the way down into fifth position while Nawaz and fellow Dojomoto teammate, Anjum Shaikh, took control of the race. Nawaz kept on for the win, crossing the finish line just 0.092 seconds ahead of Shaikh.
After the points of the two heats were tallied, Maz Nawaz had collected 73 points and first-place, a mere three points over Romaldo Labrooy on 70 points. Hussain Umid Ali was also right in the mix with 69 points, enough to claim third.
In the Masters category Atef Al Barwani finished the year just as he started, with another thrashing of the competition, confirming the Emirati ace as king of class. He won an incredible 14 rounds throughout the year.
Al Barwani was perfect on the night earning top position in qualifying and two class wins. He racked up 48 points and a comfortable victory over Benjamin Trespe with 32 points. Andrew Vieira claimed third with 31 points.
Report: Aaron Meriwether
Photos: Arthur Rosales