Team UAE made the perfect start to the defence of their UIM Nations Cup crown winning the overall Team Trophy in the season-opener in Khor Fakkan.
A double win in both of today’s 20-lap sprint races for Majed Al Mansoori, and a third place for Rashed Al Tayer in race 1, was enough to stretch their overnight points advantage over rivals Qatar and take overall honours by a narrow margin of seven points.
Today’s results rounded off a near perfect weekend for the Abu Dhabi based team, adding race wins to their Match Race success yesterday, but missing out on the clean sweep after Mansoori was edged into second place in qualifying by Team Qatar’s Khalid Al Shamlan. “It was a great afternoon of racing, full of drama and an emotional roller coaster,” said UAE team manager, Scott Gillman. “It was looking good for us after race 1, but when Rashed stopped at the start of the second race I thought we had lost it. But then Khalid went out and Majed’s win was just enough.”
The afternoon’s sprint races produced a feast of close racing and two very dramatic moments, with both races yellow flagged. Team Malaysia’s Alffian Yanto Kadri and Team Brunei’s Ismail bin Hj Kabon were involved in a spectacular coming together and going out of race 1 on lap 5 – both drivers emerging unhurt, and in race 2 Team Qatar’s hope of winning the overall team trophy disappeared when race leader Khalid Al Shamlan barrel-rolled out on lap 5.
Race 1 saw Majed Al Mansoori come from behind to take his first win off the afternoon, passing race leader Khalid Al Shamlan on lap 13, who was then passed two laps later by the UAE’s Rashed Al Tayer – the pair going on to complete a comfortable one-two.
Khalid Al Kuwari and Risto Painio enjoyed a race long battle in fourth and fifth, with Team South Africa’s Mark Shepherd moving up from last place on the start line to finish in a respectable sixth ahead Malaysia’s Mohammad Kadri, Finland’s Meeri Painio and South Africa’s Fetherstonhaugh who was plagued with engine troubles all race long.
There was more drama at the start of race 2 when the UAE’s Rashed Al Tayer stopped almost immediately with engine problems, and Mansoori losing the race lead to Qatar’s Al Shamlan on lap 4, handing the advantage to the Doha based outfit in their bid to win the overall team trophy. But two laps later and pushing hard, Al Shamlan crashed out handing the advantage back to their rivals, with Mansoori running out an easy winner.
For team Qatar it was a case of what might have been, and despite a second place in race 1 after a spirited drive by Al Shamlan, who led for 10 laps, and a fifth and a fourth for Khalid Al Kuwari, the team again had to settle for second place in the overall standings.
Team Finland’s Father-Daughter partnership produced their best Nations Cup results to take third place in the team Trophy thanks to two impressive performances by Risto Painio, finishing fourth in race 1 and holding off a race long challenge by Malaysia’s Mohammad Kadri, to finish second in race 2 and take second overall, with Meeri picking up valuable points with seventh and eighth places.
Kadri’s second place and seventh in race 1 was enough to put him into a podium place in the sprint races, some consolation after seeing his brother crash out earlier.
Team South Africa completed a frustrating Nations Cup securing fourth place in the team trophy, with neither driver able to challenge the front runners on an afternoon of misfortune, with Timothy Fetherstonhaugh having engine problems in both races and Mark Shepherd losing his canopy in race 1.
Team Malaysia finished fifth with two drivers making their Nations Cup debut, ahead of Brazil and Brunei whose Nations Cup appearances in both Singapore and here in Khor Fakkan have proved to be highly eventful with drivers crashing out in both events.