With teams setting up for an exciting weekend on the challenging 5.55kms Grand Prix circuit at the fabulous US $1.3 billion Yas Marina F1 facility, some drivers took advantage of the extra testing offered by ‘Dragon Wednesday’. With three hours on track it presented a great opportunity to add to the 5 hours of track time already offered across the official sessions over the weekend.
Unfortunately news had filtered through that Ozzie racer Steve Adams, who was making a return to GulfSport Racing after many years had to make an emergency trip back to Australia and so had to withdraw from the event.
The three hour open pit-lane session started at 13.00 with all drivers taking to the track. Unfortunately newcomer Mohamed Al Kazemi had an off braking into Turn 8 with damage rendering the car out of action for the whole weekend.
Going into Friday it was time for Q1 and Q2. These sessions being only 15 minutes long and just minutes apart are designed to set the grid for Race and 1 and 2 respectively. Just a short blast to see what the drivers can produce!
Q1 saw reigning Champion Jani Hjerppe setting the pace with a 2:17.593 for the Pole, followed by team mate Yousaf and a great lap from Feyzulin for third, his best showing yet. Amir Feyzulin has spent much of the summer competing in the UK Radical series, and clearly put that time to good use, demonstrating impressive pace this weekend.
Unfortunately Cush had a spin under the hotel, ending up on the exit kerb of turn 19. With the yellow flags coming out a little slowly, only seconds after Cush came to rest Shahin came through on a hot lap and could do nothing to avoid heavy contact with Cush. Shahin was able to make it back to the pits for a sidepod change, but Cush sustained more damage resulting in the car missing Q2 while the team worked to replace the front end.
Q2 started only 15 minutes later and it was the chance for the two driver pairings to show what they had. This time it was Sean Simpson setting the pace, however after post qualifying scrutineering the car was presented underweight, meaning Simpson had all his times removed resulting in a pit-lane start for race 2. James Edmeades’s lap of 2.18.717 took the pole in the end.
Race 1 started a few hours later, and it was Hjerppe who took the lead with Feyzulin in second and Yousaf third. Mughal made a bad start dropping to the back with newcomer Francis, both had some work to do to get past Cush and catch up with newcomer Khazzoum. After the pit stops Hjerppe handed the car to Mantylla in the lead but with the great pace of Shahin and Simpson they eventually took the lead so it was a Dream Racing 1, 2, 3!
Race 2 started the following day with Race 1 winner Simpson lining up in the pit lane following his weight infringement from Q2. However he was very determined and all eyes were on him at the start. He lined up behind Neil Clark who also was starting from the pit-lane as a result of missing Q2 while his car was being repaired following his team mate’s accident in Q1.
As the field stormed through Turn 1, its was Usmaan Mughal who had made a flying start getting to third place. However disaster struck when he had to pull his car over due to an electrical fault. Simpson was on a charge setting fastest times while he caught up to the back of the field and had actually got up to 5th place before the pit window opened. Due to the Round 1 success all three Dream racing cars had pit stop time penalties, however with Simpson’s pace it looked liked a podium was still on the cards. As he handed the car to his team-mate it was left to Yousaf to see where he could get to and he wasted no time pursuing the leaders.
Shahin was also on a charge out of the pits taking Ian Roberts and then Curtis. Yousaf was taking about a second a lap out of Roberts and got past him for fourth with one lap to go. So it was the pairing of Hjerppe and Mantyla across the line first, followed by Shahin and Curtis for third.
After reports from official trackside observers and Race Control, cars 26 (Yousaf/Simpson), 96 (Francis), and 24 (Shahin) were all given 3 place penalties for crossing the pit exit line. Shahin was subsequently excluded from the race. That left Curtis being promoted to 2nd and Roberts taking 3rd; all important points for the year ahead.
Reflecting on his first ever race weekend. Johnny Khazzoum added:
“It was a great experience being the first race I’ve ever done after many trackdays. It was very challenging and for sure made me more focused on upcoming races. Great organisation and environment. I think this is the closest someone can get to an F1 race feel, Gulf Radical Cup lets you achieve that dream!”
The next race is in three weeks at the Dubai Autodrome on the 22nd November.GULF RADICAL CUP