The 2018/19 Gulf Radical Cup got off to a flying start under lights on Abu Dhabi’s 5.5kms F1 Grand Prix Circuit this weekend, with two wins for pole sitter, 2017 European Masters champ Jani Hjerppe. Hjerppe shared the drive with Shibin Yousaf, who took over the #17 car during the mandatory 45 second pit stop. However, they were pushed hard through both races by Sergey Shalunov.
In Round 1, Shalunov finished just three quarters of a second behind Yousaf after racing hard for 95kms in the 35C dusk conditions.
There were significant challenges for some of the 13 drivers who got caught out by a safety car period that was called when Sean Simpson spun the # 26 car on oil as he entered the pit lane for his mandatory pit stop. The leading quartet, who had not yet pitted took full advantage of the safety car period to dive in with the east loss of time.
In the second half of the race it was the extremely quick D5 Racing James Edmeades who worked his way through to an impressive 3rd place in the #4 car he was sharing with Jeff Curtis.
Dream Racing’s Tarek Elgammel, who was sharing with Hamdan Al Ghaferi set the fastest lap time of the day in the #75 car with a 2:16.882 on the last lap.
Round 2 of the 2018/19 Gulf Radical Cup was challenging from both the perspective of plus 50C track surface temperatures and close competition. Six local race teams had entered 17 drivers who would be driving identical 240bhp Radical SR3s running on Hankook slicks, a very good start to the new season.
The combination of Yas Marina Circuit instructor Yousaf and Finnish racer Hjerppe (Dream Racing) proved unbeatable again - but only just! Russian driver Shalunov had a great race strategy courtesy of his two-time Le Mans winning driver coach Tommy Erdos, which saw Shalunov take and hold the lead after his pit stop, exiting the pits just ahead of his team mate Ian Roberts.
Unfortunately, Shalunov found himself inexplicably in neutral coming onto the back straight on the very last lap of the race, allowing Hjerppe to take the lead and win the race. Hjerppe admitted to Shalunov that without that mistake he would not have been able to get past.
South African driver Sean Simpson had a very strong run to take a creditable 3rd place for Dream Racing with Ian Roberts (Team GulfSport) overtaking two competitors to finish 4th.
The race was action packed as ex-motorcycle racer Edmeades (D5 Racing with AUH) got through Turn 1 ahead of the pack, but it was the experienced Elgammel who led the first lap and opened up a sizeable lead going into the pit stop to hand over to Hamdan Al Ghaferi (Dream Racing). After taking over from Edmeades, Jeff Curtis would go on to finish in 5th place ahead of Al Ghaferi and Elgammal.
Konstantin Tatulov (B Tuning with AUH) and Amir Feyzullin (AUH) came in 8th and 9th respectively with rookie drivers Neal Clark and Fran Cush (Team GulfSport) having a very successful first event by completing both races. Fastest lap was set by Hjerppe on lap 16 at 2:17.613
The Gulf Radical Cup is organised and promoted by GulfSport Racing who have been providing a full customer sales and support role for teams and drivers in the region since 2004. Rounds 3 & 4 will take place at the Dubai Autodrome on 16th November.RESULTS