It was a weekend of mixed fortunes for the Sodi Racing Team ME competing in Round 9 and Round 10 of the 2015-2016 UAE Rotax Max Championship at Dubai Kartdrome.
Friday, Round 9 was tough day for the team as incidents and luck took their toll, and a as a result there were no podiums for Sodi Racing Team drivers on the day. However Daman Speed Academy, who use Sodi chassis, did have cause to celebrate as Ali Al Shamsi was top scorer in the Micro Max class and Saeed Al Ali bagged maximum points in the DD2 class.
Day two, Round 10 would be a different story for Sodi Racing Team with some surprise results on the Speedway configuration of the Kartdrome, with three of the team’s drivers finding themselves on the podium at the end of the day.
Biggest surprise of all, even for himself, was Enzo Fontanella claiming victory in the final of the Junior Max class after a dramatic day.
After qualifying fifth he was in the thick of the action in Heat 1, finishing sixth. In the Pre-Final he was tagged at high speed going into Turn 1 and spun out. He recovered from the incident but limped around in 11th with a damaged kart. The Sodi crew sprung into action and had Fontanella ready to take up his spot on the back row of the grid for the Junior Max Final.
From then on he delivered one of his best performances to date as he powered through the field to claim sixth place by the end of the first lap, fifth place by lap seven, fourth a lap later, third on lap eleven and eventually crossing the line second behind Tehmur Chohan, but with the latter receiving a penalty Fontanella was promoted to the top step of the podium.
Speaking after his maiden victory in the UAE Rotax Junior Max class, Fontanella said, “This is a great result. We never gave up and the team were fantastic to get me on the grid after the Pre-Final incident. In the Final I just drove as hard as I could and in the end it all paid off. I am very happy.”
Fontanella’s Sodi teammates Omar Alami, Eliot Jones and Logan Hannah finished seventh, eighth and ninth respectively.
On Saturday, Abigail Birch qualified fourth in the Max class a mere 00.232 of a second off the pole time. In the Heat race she finished seventh and then fifth in the Pre-Final.
In the Final she made her way to fourth, chasing Giulio Peroni relentlessly with little between the two throughout the ensuing laps. On the penultimate lap she made a well calculated move which began on the main straight and ended as she got by Peroni in Turn 2. Thereafter she stayed ahead and thus did enough to claim a well deserved third place.
It was a disappointing Max Final for Fraser Rose, who was at the sharp end of proceedings throughout the day, but in the end was forced to retire with technical problems.
It was a bittersweet result for Sodi drivers in the tightly contested Micro Max class which was won by Daman Speed Academy driver Ali Al Shamsi driving a Sodi chassis.
Finishing in second was Sodi driver Diaraf Keinde, his best result to date and capping a fine weekend for ‘Team Keinde’ who have put the early season disappointments behind them, transforming young Diaraf into a podium candidate and potential race winner every time he starts a race.
On the downside, Georgie Zouein was unfortunate to receive two penalties from the stewards during the incident packed race, which dropped him from second place to 12th after a day where he was constantly battling among the leaders.
As for the other Sodi Racing Team Micro Max drivers, Luis Velasco was seventh ahead of Archie Sampson in ninth. Rookie Alexander Renner at one point was up to fifth in the Final, but he scored a DNF as he pulled into the pits after a couple of laps with what he thought was a technical issue.
Sodi Racing Team’s Luigi Gariano summed up: “It was a tough two days at the Kartdrome. On day one we were unfortunate with results, but the the team and our drivers showed great spirit to bounce back on the second day by doing their talking on track and bring home strong results.”
“It was great to see Enzo Fontanella score his maiden win and also to have Diaraf Keinde and Abigail Birch on the podium has boosted the team. Now we look forward to the final two rounds of the championship knowing we have the capacity to bring home more trophies.”
Round 11, the penultimate round, of the UAE Rotax Max Championship takes place at Yas Marina Circuit on 11 March 2016.