King Retains his throne!
Round 2 of the Gulf Radical Cup took place at the Dubai Autodrome, again on the 3.45km National Circuit.
George King dominated at the first event of the season a few weeks prior, and he was no doubt looking to do the same again this weekend.
Going into Sprint Qualifying King did indeed set the pace with a flying 1:23.441 for Sprint Race 1 pole, second was Ian Loggie on a 1:23.487 and Alex Bukhantsov on a 1:24.051 for third. Sprint Race 2 grid is taken from the second fastest time set from the session and this would go to Ian Loggie on a 1:23.890.
At the start of the first Sprint Race King took the lead closely followed by Loggie and James Sweetnam. After the first lap King and Loggie were able to pull a gap over the rest of the field, both posting times in the 1.24’s on lap two! James Sweetnam was then at the front of a train of 5 cars. But after a couple more laps Sweetnam was getting comfortable in the 1.25’s and pulled a gap from the main pack where places were being swapped.
Contact occurred between Alhameedi and Roberts, causing damage to Roberts car taking him out of the race. A 10 second penalty was eventually added to Alhameedi’s time for causing a collision.
So it was King who took the win from Loggie and Sweetnam.
In Sprint Race 2, Sweetnam made a great start and was tucked right up behind King going through the first half of the lap. Alkazemi had made a flyer from 8th to 3rd and was right behind Sweetnam. King was able to edge out the others, but for 3 laps Sweetnam and Alkazemi were nose to tail. Contact had occurred at turn one and tyre smoke was bellowing from the number 5 car of Khazzoum, with him later retiring from the race.
On lap 5 Alkazeemi ran wide allowing Alex Bukhanstov and Marcus Bamberg through, dropping him to 5th. Meanwhile Loggie was reeling in Sweetnam and on the last lap slipped through to take P2, with Sweetnam in 3rd. King took another convincing win, with Loggie taking fastest lap while hunting down Sweetnam.
On the Saturday it was an early Enduro Qualifying session. The track was fast and the air was cool, it would prove to be one of the fastest and closest GRC qualifying sessions of all time.
King set a new lap record on a 1:23.074, amazing! Second was Khazzoum on a 1:23.862, and Sweetnam was in 3rd. Then the rest of the field, all the way down to 10th was within 1 second.
Again, it was King who made a flyer from pole to take the lead, with Khazzoum and Loggie making poor starts and dropping back. Sweetham was safe for now in second.
The main pack was then lead by Zaair Moorad, closely followed by Ian Roberts. Impressive from Moorad given this is his first season, but after 4 laps of pressure Roberts was able to slip through to 4th.
This race would see the first of the pitstop penalties applied from the last Enduro race. That meant 15 seconds for King, 10 seconds for Khazzoum and 5 Loggie.
King was in and out, and while Sweetnam should have taken the lead at that moment, he had just enough gap to be ahead after the pit stop. Loggie struggled to restart the car and lost more than 30 seconds and dropped down the field.
So after the dust had settled after the pit stops, it was King in the lead, followed by Sweetnam and Bukantsov. Things had seemed to settle down until contact occurred between Bukantsov and Alhameedi, leading to another penalty for Alhameedi.
More drama as Sweetnam did not appear around the last corner on lap 20, the car stuck with a broken fuel pump.
So with the penalty for Alhameedi given post race, this promoted Bukhantsov to 2nd and Roberts to 3rd. But of course another convincing win for King!
Interestingly all three podiums over the weekend were locked out by drivers with the new SR3 XX.
Next race is at Yas Marina in January on the new GP layout.Click Here for current Championship Standings