AL AIN // Reigning champion Piers Pakenham-Walsh pulled off the result of the day to win the DD2 title on the final weekend of the UAE Rotax Max Challenge 2014/15 at Al Ain Raceway on Saturday.
Pakenham-Walsh had gone into the day trailing karting world champion Sean Babington, but a win in the final race of the season, coupled with a 10th-place finish for his rival, helped him seal the title.
Babington finished second in the final rankings with Sanad Al Rawahi third.
“Feels amazing to be able to win the championship for a second year in a row,” Pakenham-Walsh said. “The race was tough and Sean pulled a big gap, he had the pace to win, but unfortunately encountered a technical issue which forced him to fall back and I was able to win.
“I would like to say thank you to the whole Sodi Middle East team, (team members) David (Terrien) and Nico (Fargeas) and of course my mechanic, Dad.”
The first event of the afternoon was the women’s standalone race, in which 17 drivers entered and Nadia Khan came away with the victory.
The Micro Max category (8-10 years) was the closest-run of all the categories going into the final day, and with a maximum of 150 points on offer for the winner, several of the young drivers held hopes of a podium finish.
It was Jamie Day who blew away the competition from the start and maintained a comfortable lead until the chequered flag. Khaled Ray Saab finished second, with Theo Kekati a close third.
By contrast, the Max title, for ages 15 and older, had long been settled thanks to Tom Bale’s excellent mid-season form. Patrick Hannah and Giulio peroni were distant second and third.
Sem Knopjes was the strong favourite in the Mini Max division (10-13 years), but the most exciting race of the day ended with a triumph for Abu Dhabi Racing as Hamda Al Qubaisi finished first in a field of seven.
Knopjes still did enough to clinch the title, with Liam Crystals and Shihab Al Habsi in second and third in the final standings.
Considerably more contestants entered the Junior Max final (13-16 years), including Al Qubaisi’s elder sister Amna, but it was Alain Bauwmans who triumphed ahead of Taymour Kermanshahchi of Sodi Kart, with Lucas Peterson of Scuderia third. Kermanshahchi took the title.
By then the temperature on the track was edging near 40°C, and the young drivers showed commendable resilience to race in the scorching conditions.
“It was extremely hot,” German driver Jan Richtermeier said after the Junior Max final. “Sitting in the car with all the gear on, on the grid before the start, you could really feel it.”
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