Malaysian driver Natasha Seatter made it six race wins in a row following victories in Rounds 5 and 6 of the Formula Gulf 1000 Championship at Dubai Autodrome over the weekend.
The 19-year-old began Round 5 from the second row after Spaniard Nick Canal had secured pole position with a blistering lap of 2:02.366, a full second quicker than second fastest driver Rahul Mayer, 16, of Malaysia.
But it was the more experienced Seatter who made a flying start to take the inside line at Turn One which saw poleman Canal running wide, spinning and returning to the circuit in last place.
This incident slowed the pack but Seatter pulled away and put in the first of a series of fast laps, which built to a 20-second lead as she took the chequered flag.
Canal did well to work his way back through the pack, but ran out of laps in his quest to catch Mayer, who finished 2nd.
The grid for Round 6 was based on the finishing order of the previous race which saw Seatter on pole.
Seatter took the top spot with Canal in second and Mayer third.
Al Nabooda Racing (ANR) team principal Vijay Rao has said that both his drivers are free to go for the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East title, but insisted the primary goal was to secure the Team Championship this season.
Speaking to Sport360° ahead of the Rounds 5 and 6 at the Dubai Autodrome this weekend, Rao said: “We’ve been very clear from the moment that we decided to enter a two-car team in the series that Karim Al Azhari and Clemens Schmid would share equal billing in the team, and that they would not receive instructions to deviate from the normal practice of racing against each other.
“We will not be looking to manipulate results. Karim and Clemens both race to win, or finish as high as they can in each race, and this is the logical way to get the best overall results for the team.
“They are now great friends as well as team-mates and help each other a great deal, and both are fully focused on the team’s main objective, which is to end the season as the No1 team. But there are no team orders.”
Al Azhari and Schmid say that they will go all out to provide ANR with a double home victory at the Autodrome. The Dubai-based outfit leads the team title race after four of 12 rounds, and Al Azhari and Schmid want to extend their advantage over nearest challengers, the Saudi Falcons, as the championship reaches the half way stage during the Dubai Motorsport Festival Weekend.
“This is our home circuit, we’re going to have a lot of support and we want to be at our absolute best,” said Al Azhari. “If we can repeat our performance from the first two rounds in Bahrain, where we won the team title in both races, that will put us in a very strong position in the overall team championship.
“Securing that is our top priority this season, and while Clemens and I both race to win as individuals, we’re very focused on the task to bring the GT3 cup team title to Dubai for the first time.”
Schmid added: “We race to win, and the aim again this weekend is to get the two of us on the podium. That’s what wins championships.”
The duo aim to put pressure on the championship leader Abdulaziz Al Faisal, who scored back-to-back wins at Yas last weekend.
“The level of driving skills on show in the championship has grown each year, and the competition is fierce, with the result that we are seeing some intriguing battles out there on the track,” Rao added.
“This is circuit racing at its best, and that’s the reason why we went with a two-car entry this season in order for us to compete for the team title, and hopefully bring it to Dubai.”
Mahmoud Tannir feels a first win of the season in Dubai this weekend will give him the perfect confidence boost as he looks to get the defence of his UAE Sportbikes title off the ground.
Tannir’s start to the new season has been far from ideal after a crash in round one was followed by the second round being washed out by rain.
Round three takes place on Friday alongside the Dubai Motorsport Festival races, and the Lebanese rider is eager to take out his frustration on the Autodrome track.
“I wouldn’t say that I am going to be more aggressive than usual, but my mindset is very focused and I want only one thing and that is to win,” he said.
Despite crashing out in the very first race of his title defence, Tannir managed to claim second spot in the second race of the opening round.
Last year’s rookie champion Surya Raja seized an early lead in the championship with two wins and Tannir, winner of 12 of 14 races last season, accepts he may have a tougher challenge on his hands this time around.
But he said: “I think things will become clearer after the weekend. “At the moment I am not thinking about second place – I am only thinking about first.
“It will be good for confidence. The crash didn’t help but this is what we do. We need to get the ball rolling again with a win and that will give everyone in the team confidence.
“It will give everyone a psychological boost and give us all, including me, reason to look forward with optimism.”
Follow Tannir’s progress on his official Facebook page www.facebook.com/mahmoudtannirofficial.