The UAEs national single seater championship Formula Gulf 1000 has been won by 16 year old Tejas Hirani who travelled from Kenya for each event. Not only is putting a Championship win on his CV very important to his future professional racing career, but so is the simulator training and F3 test he won with Spanish GP2 & GP3 team and series partner, Campos Racing.
Ahmed Al Ghanem, a very talented young Kuwaiti racer finished as Vice Champion winning a VIP trip to the worldπs biggest motor race, the Le Mans 24 Hour as a guest of series sponsor, Gulf Oil Middle East where he will spend the weekend with Aston Martin Racing.
Gulf Sport Racingπs FG1000 series is primarily a winter competition driving school and uses two professional driver coaches to mentor its students Thomas (Tommy) Erdos who has raced at Le Mans thirteen times, and Andy Pardoe who has coached many top drivers over his 25 year career.
The final two races of the season took place at the Dubai Autodrome last Friday. With Tejas Hirani and Ahmed Al Ghanem only 10 points apart and Saudi racer Mashhur Bal Hejaila fighting with Kuwaitπs Yousef Al Bader for third, it was clearly going to be a nail bitter.
A rather large spanner was thrown in the works for Thursdayπs testing in the shape of an epic dust storm that had blown in from Saudi taking visibility down to 50m. The organisers had no choice but to abandon the day of testing which would leave the drivers with minimal practice for race day.
Luckily the dust blew away over night and the sun and blue sky were once out again. In the warm-up session everyone kept their cards close to their chests, bedding in tyres and doing last minute checks on the cars. So with no problems to report it was straight into the 20 minute qualifying session with the a crucial 5 points up for grabs for Pole.
After tyre temps started to rise the pack began to take shape Hirani put in a quick lap on lap 9 of 1:00.593 and set the pace! It was now down to the others to try and better that but it was proving hard. Al Ghanem on the previous lap had set a 1:01.375 but was struggling to better it. On lap 10 Bal Hejaila showed his pace and dropped in a 1:01.131, and that would prove to be it. Even though most drivers went on to complete another 7 or so laps no one could respond to Hiraniπs lap, so the Pole and all important 5 points were his!
Before you could blink race 1 was upon us. It was Hirani and Bal Hejaila making an early break with Al Ghanem and Al Bader a couple of seconds down the road. Bal Hejaila was able to consistently reel in Hirani over the last half of the lap and looked a few times to be making his move to take the lead but was unable to get the drive out of turn 16, meaning that was not able to make a pass. With the pace of the front 2 dropping and Al Ghanem getting on it he was pulling the two leaders in. But with only 7 laps to go,did he give himself enough time? Going onto the final lap it was Hirani, Bal Hejaila and Al Ghanem nose to tail, but thatπs the way it would stay with overtaking very tricky on the short 2.4km club circuit and with all the drivers needing as many points as possible no one took the risk of a DNF.
Hirani only had to finish Race 2 to become Champion but that didn’t mean he wasn’t up for a fight. Again he took the lead with Bal Hejaila tucked up behind. Al Bader was in third with Al Ghanem in fourth who then quickly slipped through to chase down the front two.
But as hard as Al Ghanem tried he was never able to out-pace the Kenyan and with a gap of only a couple of seconds between them he was left to watch Hirani take a perfect score for the weekend and secure the 2014/15 Championship.