Continuing their driver development program in the UK, Omar Gazzaz and Cato Poulsen were entered and run by Dubai’s GulfSport Racing in two rounds of very popular JMT Mono Championship which took place on the famous Brands Hatch Grand Prix Circuit in Kent, England. Built in the 1950s, this was the home of the British Formula One Grand Prix, alternating with Silverstone every year from 1964 until 1986 when Nigel Mansell won in his Honda powered Williams. This is an extremely fast and narrow circuit which demands precision and bravery in equal measure. Nelson Piquet’s average speed, when he won pole position in 1986 was more than 140mph!!
So wide eyed with anticipation, these two young drivers, who had been trained by the Formula Gulf Academy found themselves on a grid of no less than 30 single seater racing cars, including Dallara, Van Diemen, Lola, Reynard, Mygale, Ray, Jedi, Speads, and Vauxhall Junior, divided into 4 classes by engine size.
Interestingly, the very first exploratory lap of this demanding 2.43 mile took place during a short 15 minute qualifying session, which itself was interrupted by a safety car when one of the cars went off into a gravel trap.
So GulfSport’s young drivers only had 8 laps to learn the circuit. Nevertheless, Omar qualified 4th in class (7th overall) and Cato qualified 5th (8th overall) an admirable achievement. Their beautifully turned out Ralph Firman F1000 cars, being seen in the UK for the first time, attracted significant and constant attention from the crowd of single seater aficionados that follow this championship, especially after AUTOSPORT reported that Cato won both Tiedeman Trophy Championship races at Rockingham five weeks earlier.
Race 1 was a nail-biting affair as Cato fluffed his start and dropped back to 27th position as he entered the fearsome Paddock Hill Bend (turn 1). But it was a good getaway for Omar who slotted himself in behind the lightning quick starters ahead of him as they flew uphill to the Druids Bend. Over a very exciting 9 lap race, Cato clawed his way back to finish 8th overall (5th in class) setting Fastest Lap which was 6-tenths quicker than Class winner Richard Gittings, a more experienced driver who has competed in 46 races in his 1000cc Jedi Mk 6. Omar moved up a place to finish an amazing 6th overall which was good for 4th in class. A great result for both drivers in extremely demanding circumstances.
Race 2 found Omar and Cato in P8 and P10 on the very busy starting grid. This time Cato managed to get away cleanly as did Omar. Having started further back than in race 1, they both enjoyed some very tough racing along the way with Cato, who had two wheels on the grass whilst passing Omar who got himself boxed in along the Cooper Straight going into Surtees. But as the front group of drivers attacked Clearways on lap 6 the unfortunate Omar spun into the gravel whilst chasing Cato which brought out the red flag to end his race prematurely. Cato had a much better race this time and worked his way through the pack to finish on the podium with 3rd in class and 6th overall, a stunning achievement.
Their next challenge is to race with an even bigger grid on the famous Donington GP circuit on 13th & 14th August.
Ben Potter

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