Emirati Humaid Al Masaood guided his Mazda Lola Coupé to a thrilling victory in this weekend’s seventh round of the American Le Mans Series (ALMS). The result represented the Oryx Racing team’s first victory of the Series and the highest level circuit win by an Emirati, sparking scenes of celebration among the UAE-run team at what was the Baltimore circuit’s inaugural race. .
After starting in second place behind Series leaders, Dyson Racing, Oryx Racing took the lead on lap 34, some 45 minutes into the race, taking advantage of a Dyson Racing pit-stop. In a thrilling climax, Al Masaood and race partner Steven Kane battled hard to hold the lead, posting the fastest lap of the race, and eventually securing victory with a lead of just 6.962 seconds.
Taking in the historic achievement, Abu Dhabi-based Al Masaood said: “I am thrilled with the success and extremely proud to be the first victorious Emirati in the American Le Mans Series. The pit-stop was a major turning point in the race, and our pit crew was able to demonstrate how far we’ve come in such a short time. Steven got away quickly as we changed drivers, which meant we came out in front. We still had to drive smart to keep the win. Driving smart is definitely a challenge, and it is easy to make a mistake especially with the cold tyres. There is no run off on a street circuit so it is easy to go off and end up in the wall - you really have to be very precise.”
Race partner Steven Kane was equally elated. “I would like to start off by thanking everyone at Baltimore for putting on such a great race. The crowd was amazing and this was definitely my favourite race of the Series so far. It has been fantastic to come into this Series and to win a race in only our fifth attempt. It shows how much talent Humaid has. He has come so far since I met him at the 24 hours of Dubai and told him then he has what it takes to go all of the way.”
The win cements Oryx Racing’s arrival in the ALMS and sees them move up into third place in the LMP1 Team Championship standings. After the celebrations in Baltimore, the focus now shifts to the Modspace AMLS Monterey presented by Patron, at the legendary Laguna Seca circuit, which takes place the weekend of 28th September – 1st October 2011, where Oryx Racing will be hoping for a similar success.
To keep up with all the action and results, UAE motorsport fans can visit the Oryx Racing Facebook page, which will carry regular updates from the team. More information is also available on the Oryx Racing website - www.oryxracing.com – and the ALMS website, www.americanlemans.com.