Encouraging performances by two young Emirati drivers were among the highlights of a busy first round of the UAE Rotax MAX Challenge (UAERMC) at Al Ain Raceway on Friday.
Saqir Al Qassemi, age 7, and Rashid Al Dhaheri, 5, competed in the Bambino class, the entry-level category to the series. Al Qassemi was the fastest driver and Al Dhaheri took fourth in his debut.
In the Micro MAX class, Omani racer Shehab Al Habsi took victory over reigning champion Sem Knopjes.
It was Knopjes who led early on, only to be passed by Al Habsi on the second lap. Theo Kekati was third, narrowly holding off Ziggy Kermanshahchi.
Tehmur Chohan took a routine win in the Mini MAX class. Chohan crossed the line 10 seconds clear of Yahya Houston.
Emanuele Pagani took a debut win in the 125 MAX class after taking the lead from Patrick Hannah on lap nine. Ameer Hassan, Abdullah Al Rawahi and Alexandre Silanine completed the top five.
In the DD2 class, Maurits Knopjes – who returned from a year’s sabbatical – raced to victory, fending off an early charge from rival Sanad Al Rawahi to triumph.
Al Rawahi ran second for most of the race, but reigning champion Oliver George made a pass on lap nine, demoting the young Omani to third.
The Junior MAX Final was stopped after an accident and ran in two parts.
After the restart, Pasqual Pook capitalised and the reigning champion started his 2013/14 campaign in the same manner as last year – with a win.
Taymour Kermanshahchi was a close second.