Great performance for SodiKart during Round 5 & 6 of the UAE Rotax Max Challenge at Al Ain Raceway on 4 & 5 December with our drivers among the fastest in each categories, battling it out at the front and showing a great team effort during the throughout the weekend.
UAE Rotax Max Challenge, Round 5 on Friday
Track configuration: Al Ain F1 Circuit
The weekend started off pretty well for Luis Velasco showing an incredible speed during official practice and looks to be very comfortable on this track layout. As a result Velasco marked up a nice 8th position being leading the Sodi Micro Max team on track, 3 tenth away from the leader. Followed closely by Team mate Archie Sampson in 11th. Georgie Zouein and Diaraf Keinde found it difficult to get the rhythm and got P13 & P16.
In Heat 1 and after a difficult start Velasco dropped few positions and after few battles got himself in 13th position behind Sampson in 12th. Zouein found a path throughout the race to get 8th and Diaraf Keinde gained 2 position to 14th.
In pre Final the duo Sampson and Velasco worked together to go through the pack to gain for the 2 of them 4 position and crossed the finish line in 8th and 9th respectively. Zouein dropping from 8th to 11th after some lost fights on the track. Keinde kept 14th.
In final Velasco offered a great show and some good racing and gained 2 positions finishing 7th and leading the SodiKart Team in this Micro Max Race. Zouein gained 1 position to 10th being not very comfortable throughout the day with track and racing conditions. Sampson finished not far behind in 11th followed by Keinde in 15th.
Sampson said: “Overall I had a great race day even if the results in the end did not go my way. My lap times were good but I showed a lack of race experience in being able to convert the pace into results, I am sure I will do better in the next races.”
Velasco said: “With the most exciting race by far in the entire weekend I stayed 7th for one of the most exciting performances in my life. With a chain of 8 karts at the front I managed to keep my cool and stay where I was. A big thanks to the team for supporting me throughout the weekend”
Zouein said: “I had no power in the Kart, so I tried my best to keep it up”
Difficult start of the weekend for Khaled Saab who found it difficult to get the right pace to get himself at the top of the ranking for qualifying during this Round 5 in such a competitive field. All turn out to be better in
Heat 1 where Saab finally got his machine and head set right to go fight the front runner, moving from a difficult P9 to a fantastic P2 after great battles on track.
In Pre Final, Saab suffered from a very difficult start on the outside line losing all the position he gained and went back to the back of the grid. Khaled put a strong effort to use his pace and experience to go up the pack and finally reached 3rd place at the end of the Heat being 3rd fastest on track with a 57.382.
Unfortunately Final was not really easy and after few mistakes Saab got P9 at the chequered flag for this Round 5.
Saab said: “A weekend full of highs and lows for me. Friday i didn’t Qualify well but had a great start and got up to 2nd place. In the Pre-Final i also had great pace and finished 3rd. I really thought i had a shot at the podium but an incident at the start pushed me too far back to recover and i finished 9th.”
The Sodi Quartet lead by Eliot Jones in 4th position with a mere 54.850, few tenth behind the leader, tried to make its way up to the top but unfortunately didn’t work as planned with Enzo Fontanella qualifying P9 and Logan Hannah qualifying P11. Omar Alami penalized of a 10 places penalty from last round for race incident had no surprise to finish at the back of the grid in P13.
In Heat 1 Jones tried to keep it up despite being the “punching ball as he mentioned it and managed to keep himself in the top 5 with P5, 600 of a second of P4 and being 2nd fastest on track with 54.708. Alami and Fontanella managed a fantastic race keeping themselves out of trouble and showing good race craft to go and get P6 and P7 respectively. Hannah gained 2 position to P9.
In Pre Final, Fontanella showed a great potential to win this round, driving amazingly and getting P2 behind the very fast Tehmur Chohan. Jones kept P5, Alami and Hannah getting P12 and P13 after a difficult race.
Hannah said: “the pre final onwards my engine had been slow and it really felt like I was going backwards compared to the other drivers at the end of the day I had a 11th, 9th, 13th and a 12th”
In the Final Fontanella dropped a position but showed great driving throughout the race to secure a podium for him and the team. Jones not far behind in P5 was hoping to join the battle for the podium but few more laps would have been necessary. Jones being 2nd fastest of this final. Alami went back on performance, unfortunately the few mistakes during Pre-Final cost him the top five and finished P8. Logan Hannah in P12.
Alami said: “The first heat was very positive as we showed great pace and reached 6th but fell back in the pre final as a result of on track incidents so started 12th in the final and could only manage 8th with a very bad start”
Fontanella said: “On day 1 we had a progressive run through the heats and races, finishing with a strong pace”
Jones said: “ In the final I got 5th just behind Taymour Kermanshachi. I had a great race because I was battling with him all race”
The Trio SodiKart started off pretty well with Fraser Rose qualifying P2, 3 tenth behind the leader. Abi Birch 7th and Jan Richtermeier in 9th.
Rose said: “I had a very good weekend. Being very fast on Wednesday and Thursday practice. Friday started off well but being held up on my fastest lap meant I had to settle for 2nd “
In Heat 1 Rose kept his position after difficult start on the outside line but his impeccable driving especially after the hair pin made him gained his positions back to P2. Birch and Richtermeier suffered from technical issues and could not finish the race.
Same scenario for Rose in the Pre Final keeping at the end his P2 being a tenth and a half behind the fastest time of the leader Pasqual Pook. Richtermeier and Birch once again showed their pace starting at the back of the grid and finishing in the Top 5 in P5, promising for the final. Unfortunately Jan and Abi couldn’t finish the Final Race due to technical issues. Rose secured the podium in P2 for the Sodi Max category.
Birch said: “From this weekend I am very happy with my overall pace and race craft during the races. After a DNF in the Heat I was able to make it to 8th at the start of Pre-Final, In final I was P5 when unfortunately my chain came off”
UAE Rotax Max Challenge, Round 6 on Saturday
Track configuration: International Track
Archie Sampson led the Sodi Kart Micro team in this early morning with the 6th best lap time of the race followed by Luis Velasco in P8. Georgie Zouein and Diaraf Keinder found it a bit more difficult, getting P12 & P14 respectively.
Sampson said: “I managed 4 laps because I was late at the grid but on my last lap I jumped from 11th to 6th that was my best qualifying session ever”
In Heat 1 everything seemed to go as planned for Zouein going all the way from the back to a fantastic P2 after a great drive. Sampson dropped few places after getting caught in traffic to P11. Velasco after a tough get together went down to P15 but showing a great speed for the rest of the day and Keinde gained 2 positions up to P13.
The speed of Velasco was going to pay off at some point and this is where he decided to show it, going from a difficult P15, back to the front in P7. Zouein didn’t have the same luck and had to leave his 2nd place to P9. Sampson in P12 and Keinde in P13.
In the Final, Zouein got back on the race rhythm making his way up to the lead, unfortunately a big gap between him and 3rd place didn’t give him the choice but to finish 4th. Velasco had a good day, increasing his performances and showing he can be a top driver by keeping himself in P8. Archie Sampson finished P12, Keinde P13 after trying their best but traffic on track was difficult to get through.
Zouein said: “Day 2 was much better as I was able to make a significant come back with a revived engine. According to my results this weekend, I experienced something phenomenal with my team, they worked together with me to get the best of my kart and myself. Next time we will for sure bring better results”
Amazing speed in the morning for Saab, doing a top job on track to qualify 2nd position, 2 tenth away from the leader.
In the heat, same scenario as the previous day, starting on the outside line and making it very difficult to get through the pack in the first corner, then caught in traffic and few mistakes made him finish in P7 with the 3rd best lap time in the race 1:09.497
Pre Final was an easier start being on the inside line, Saab showed a great driving and managed to get himself in P4
Final was a difficult race for Saab, finding it hard to reach the front after few mistakes on track despite he could finish easily on the podium with the 3rd fastest lap of the race 1:09.634, Saab had to finish the race on P6
Saab said: “I pulled myself together to push again. I qualified 2nd which was great, but had a terrible start and again fell to the back of the grid. I got back to 7th for the pre-final and got 4th for the final race. I finished 4th but didn’t know i’d got a 3 sec penalty for the start. I was so disappointed as i know i was fast and had the opportunity for a podium. I hope to get one soon.”
Great Qualifying for Alami qualifying P4 and leading the Sodi Junior Team, followed by Jones a tenth behind. Fontanella in 10 and Hannah in 11.
Alami said: “We found a set-up that was comfortable and I was feeling quite confident.”
Jones said: “It was and amazing day with the perfect conditions and one of the best Al Ain track. In qualifying i was coming second at one point. But i dropped down to 6. I was pleased still with that”
In Heat 1 Alami showed a consistent driving, however dropped a position to P5 followed by team mate Jones. Fontanella gained 2 positions to P7. Difficult day for Hannah in P12 trying her best to find the pace.
In Pre Final fantastic drive from Jones reaching P2 with the 3rd best lap time in the race. Alami put all the efforts down to join his team mate to the top of the list and gained 1 position to P4.
Fontanella getting there, and getting more and more comfortable with the track gained again 1 position to P6. Hannah gained 2 positions to P10
In the Final, the Sodi Juniors showed what they were capable of after avoiding the race incidents at the start of the race and getting steady drive up until the end.
The lead was for Jones crossing the line in P2, followed closely by Fontanella coming from a far and making his way up to the top setting fastest lap of the race with 1:06.779. Alami kept P4 after a great drive, Omar who got quite lucky to escape the first corner mess at the start of the race. Hannah gained few positions to P8.
Alami said: “Overall it was a great weekend and I have to give thanks to my mechanics and the team for their support”
Hannah said: “But it was a good day for the team and I was happy to see my team mates get top finishes and podiums in the race”
Fontanella said: “Day 2 went progressively and after a couple pf unfortunate starts, we managed to battle our way into a hard-fought third position in the final, having set the fastest lap and finishing 2 tenths before 2nd place”
Jones said: “ In the final, it was a bad start for me because i went off onto the sand on the first corner. I thought i had lost it all, i was upset for a few moments which I found extra motivation that made me go really fast, i pushed and pushed, and found myself in P2 when I crossed the finish line. I was very happy”
Rose qualified 3rd 700 of a second behind 2nd place. Birch in P6 and Richtermeier could not finish the race due to a technical failure.
Birch said: “I struggled in qualifying as I hadn’t tested on the new track lay out before”
In the heat, unfortunately Rose didn’t get the chance to challenge the leader Pook held off and had to fight to gain 2nd position. Fraser Rose set up the 2nd best lap time a mere 100 of a second from the leader best lap time. Abi Birch and Jan Richtermeier finished 8th and 9th stuck in traffic for the majority of the race.
In Pre final same scenario for Rose who couldn’t have the chance to challenge the leader due to a 1 second gap. Rose setting best lap time of the race, 2 tenth ahead of other competitors with 1:05.999. Abi Birch finished 8th and Richtermeier didn’t get too lucky this weekend ending up with an engine seizure couple of laps before the end.
In the Final, Pasqual Pook leader of previous race got overtaken by Guilio Perroni, giving all the chances to Rose to get the podium. Unfortunately Perroni hold him back giving the way to Pook to go away. The race finished with a gap between Pook and Rose in 2nd position of 1sec, Rose once again scored the best lap time with 1:06.060. Abi Birch managed a very nice 5th position and Richtermeier finished 10th.
Rose said: “Saturday was also a very good day qualiy went well finishing 4th but within 1tenth of 2nd, finishing the heat 2nd having a good battle with my competitors, 2nd in the pre-final with a fastest lap and lap record. Final had a bad start falling back to 5th or 6th betting my way to 3rd quite quickly but 2nd place defending for the hole race being I struggle to get past leaving me not enough time to catch the leader but got fastest lap of the race”
Birch said: “I am very happy with my progress in the final as I was able to make it up to 5th”
Weekend Summary by Nicolas Fargeas
“Very good weekend overall for the SodiKart Middle East Team where we showed great performance and very good lap times in all categories throughout the weekend. Two races on very different tracks, the F1 very fast and the International very technical, our drivers managed to adapt themselves to each situations and our mechanical crew did their best to provide the best equipment for them to succeed.”
“We showed best lap time at some point in each categories and this is very promising for the future races giving good motivation for the whole team. We hope to bring back more trophies in the next few races of the championship.
“For SodiKart, very good weekend as well having the Daman Speed Academy very strong in the Micro Category and even getting 2nd position on Friday with Ali Al Shamsi. Tony Hogg scored a very nice 3rd Place in DD2 Master on Saturday with his Sigma DD2. Great race weekend for SodiKart Chassis showing that it can be fast in any situation and category.”