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It was a weekend of mixed emotions for the Sodi Racing Team ME at the Dubai O-Plate, the highlight for the team being a thrilling victory, in the premier Rotax Max category, by Fraser Rose.

Sodi Oplate2Prior to the memorable final Rose was at the sharp end of proceedings throughout the qualifying, the four heats and the Pre-Final.

In the Final he and Pascal Pook delivered a masterclass in racing as they swapped the lead countless times, setting up a grand final lap showdown which saw them swap positins twice while at the same time fending off a concerted final corener attack by Sanad Al Rawahi.

In the end, Rose emerged in the lead by the narrowest of margins to take a well earned and thoroughly deserved win over Pook.

“The O-Plate is great race to win!” said Rose. “Big thanks to Sodi Kart Middle East, TAG Heuer, and ENOC for all their support and providing me with race winning equipment.”

“Pascal and I were close all weekend, and starting from pole was no guarantee I would win. We battled it out on just about every corner. It was clean and fair.”

“On the final lap, with a few corners to go, I saw a gap and went for it. For sure it was close, but it was enough to take the win which I am very happy to add to my CV,” added Rose.

Among the prizes for his efforts, Rose will get a test drive with Formula Gulf 1000 which has been a stepping stone for kart racers to move into single seater racing.

It was a tough weekend for the Sodi Racing Team ME Junio Max drivers, with Omar Alami, who showed strong pace early on by qualifying fourth, ending the Final in seventh and best of the team’s junior quartet.

Logan Hannah was next best of the Sodi brigade in 11th, with Enzo Fontanella and Eliot Jones 13th and 14th respectively.

With Khaled Saab absent due to injury, Sodi did not field a UAE based driver in the Mini Max class. However young Frenchman Esteban Masson made the journey to Dubai and finished seventh in the Final.

On a side note, Sodi team spirit received a boost when Saab – on crutches – made a brave visit to the Kartdrome on Frdiay to greet the team and fellow drivers.

The Micro Max trio of Diaraf Keinde, Archie Sampson and Luis Velasco were joined by young French ace Marcus Amand on the grid of 21 Micro Max karts – biggest field of the weekend.

Despite a DNF in the very first heat due to a crash, Amand got stronger with every race and in the Final finished second behind winner Nadim Khneisser. A remarkable performance from the driver making his debut at the Kartdrome, and also a great Sodi team effort to rebuild Amand’s wrecked kart in time for Heat 2.

Impressing all weekend was Keinde who has found a fine vein of form, coupled to strong pace which saw him battling among the leaders throughout the two days. In the final he was again slugging it out up at the front for a podium finish, in the end fourth overall was his reward.

Archie Sampson qualified fifth but luck deserted him for most of the weekend. Nevertheless he soldiered on to take 10th place in the Final.

Luis Velasco, who crossed the finish line 10th in the final, was penalised for advantage by contact and dropped down three places to finish 13th.

Sodi Racing Team ME team principal Luigi Gariano summed up the 2016 O-Plate: “It was a good weekend overall where the competition was really tough. The level of karting in the UAE is getting better and better, you really need to be spot on to get the top step of the podium.”

“Our team have been working a lot lately and this resulted on a very good speed in each class. We are very happy with the results of this weekend but we will expect more towards the end of the UAE Rotax Max season.”
Ben Potter

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