- Sodi drivers sure to be among the front runners this season
- Newcomers impress in Sodi colours for the first time
Sodi Racing Team Middle East drivers got their first taste of Rotax Max racing action of season at the non-championship Al Ain Invitational race day on Friday, 25 September, which provided an early indication of what can be expected in the months ahead – all indications are that a tough season lies ahead.
Rookies Archie Sampson managed eighth and Luis Velasco 11th. Diaraf Keinde was 10th.
Newcomers Sampson and Velasco, making their Rotax debut, showed consistent pace and overtaking skills to make their way up the field finishing 7th and 9th respectively. Keinde did not finish the race.
Velasco and Sampson kept out of trouble all day long, and in the final their consistency was rewarded with 5th and 6th respectively – the only two rookies in the field managed to finish ahead of some ‘seasoned’ Micro Max campaigners.
The sole Mini Max driver using Sodi was Khaled Saab, who was one of the sensations of last season’s Micro Max class and graduated to Mini Max. A new adventure and steep learning curve beckons for the talented youngster who qualified ninth and worked his way to sixth in Heat 1. He stayed there in the Pre-Final and also until the chequered flag dropped to end the Final.
Sodi trio Logan Hannah, Enzo Fontanella and Eliot Jones worked together as a team during qualifying and as a result lined up 6th, 7th and 8th respectively on the grid – a mere half a second off the top pace. The Junior Max promises to be a very close contest this season.
Although Hannah dropped down to eighth in Heat she recovered well and set the second fastest lap of the race only bettered by Junior Max favourite and pace setter Taymour Kermanshachi.
Fontanella rose to the occasion in the race and made his way up to fourth after a race long battle with the leaders. Jones managed 7th, also battling at the sharp end of proceedings.
There was little to separate the juniors as less than a second separated the top ten lap times. Fontanella was in a four way battle for second place in the Pre-final from which he merged in third and Jones fourth, with Hannah not far off in seventh.
After starting the Final in fourth Fontanella capped his best showing to date in Rotax Max with an impressive second place in a well calculated race.
Jones was involved in the ‘Battle of the Day”, with side-by-side racing through just about every corner of the 12 lap final, with a posse of determined young drivers including pre-season favourite Tehmur Chohan.
In the end Jones had to settle for seventh, but at ones stage fourth was very much in his sights. This battle among the junior contingent is likely to be one of the highlights of the Rotax Max season.
Hannah was on the pace throughout the day, but luck was not on her side and 10th was her reward for her efforts on track.
Sodi newcomer Abigail Birch stunned the Senior Max contingent by claiming pole position ahead of fellow Sodi drivers Fraser Rose and Jan Richtermeier – suggesting that Sodi have a potent line-up for the season ahead.
The pace in the first heat was electric, with Rose managing to edge ahead to take the win followed by Birch in second and Richtermeier fourth.
The Pre-final was tough and Pasqual Pook, the driver to beat in the Senior Max class this year, took victory with Rose chasing hard in second. Birch dropped to fourth and Richtermeier fifth.
Richtermeier also bounced back from fifth at the start to claim the final podium spot at the end of the day. Rose suffered technical issues, but he soldiered on to claim fourth.
“Overall a good weekend for our team and very promising for the rest of the season. The team is ready and it seems that the new evo engine with the new Sigma RS chassis is a good match.”
“Great job from all the team putting together a lot of effort with a new structure and organization for race weekends. We expect a very exciting season and the whole team are looking forward to it,” concluded Fargeas.