The last event of the 2021/22 Gulf Radical Cup took place at the Dubai Autodrome.
Temperatures were rising, and with a busy weekend of racing ahead it was always going be a tough one for all.
While George King had shown initial dominance, and maintained a decent lead in the points table, it was really only Ian Loggie that stood a chance of raining on George's parade! With double points for the last three races, it wasn’t so much about winning, but more about not getting a DNF or letting the other driver steam off ahead with double points.
So, at 0930 on the Saturday morning it was the first Sprint Race qualifying. This would be the real start to the weekend and see who had the initial pace. It was Ian Loggie Loggie taking Pole for both Sprint Race 1 and 2 with a fastest time of 1.40.087, with George King 0.3 behind and Alex Bukh 0.03 behind that. With a grid of 16 cars, the top 8 were covered by less than a second in qualifying.
Into Sprint 1, and it was George King who got the lead from Loggie with Alex Bukh in third. But on lap 3 the safety car was deployed for a stranded Alex Bukh at turn 14. It seems that he had an issue with the throttle and was stuck after just making contact with the wall. After 5 laps behind safety car the green flags were shown and Loggie was closer than even to King, making a pass on lap 8. In reality all King needed to do was shadow Loggie all weekend to take title and it seemed there as no way either driver was going to allow any mistakes to creep in.
Newcomer Jacopo Mazza was up to third, with Johnny Khazzoum hot on his heals. But as the race came to an end it was Loggie to take the first win of the weekend, King second and Mazza holding onto third.
With a short gap and it was straight in to Sprint Race 2. Again all cars got around turn 1 safely, but an out of control Bamburg came sliding to Turn 2 (17), clipping the back of Kuwaiti Alkazemi and Roberts, both cars spinning, resulting in a hard impact between Alkazemi and Roberts, taking Alkazemi out of the race. So again the safety car was out while the damaged cars were recovered. Two laps later and it was green again with Loggie leading from Mazza and King.
Impressively, Loggie and Mazza were pulling away from King and finished nose to tail at the 25 minute mark, with King in third, Another step closer sealing the deal!
That was the first day done, Loggie having all he could to close the gap on King, but with double points all three races on the Sunday the title was still there for the taking.
The following morning would see back to back Sprint Race and Enduro Race qualifying sessions. This time it was King taking the first Sprint pole with an impressive 1.39.437, with Loggie taking the second Sprint Race pole with a 1.39.657, only 0.001 ahead of King! Once again Bukh was third.
Race start and it was Loggie, from King and Mazza going into the first lap, but Alkazemi had also made a great start getting up to 6th from 8th. But with Roberts slowing, taking avoiding action, Feyzulin was unsighted and crashed into the back of Alkazemi, damaging both cars.
As the race went on it was Loggie in the lead with King shadowing his every move. It was looking like King wasn’t going to risk a pass, and hoping for Loggie to make a mistake, but that didn’t happen and they finished first and second. With another great podium for Mazza in third.
The 4th Sprint race of the weekend was not so simple. With a jump start from Alhameedi confusion ensued at the front, King got caught up with another driver allowing Bukh, Mazza and Feyzulin though, dropping Loggie back to 6th. But King re took the lead, and in the possible knowledge of a penalty showed his real pace, pulling way from the rest of the field while Loggie was left battling in the mid pack. He made his way forward but only as good as 4th in the end. Indeed a rare penalty for King was applied, but with the lead that he had built he retained his first win on the weekend.
A couple of hours later, and it was the start of the end! The final 45 minute Endurance race of the season. King had no technically done enough to win the series, but had to just see the last race out.
The race start with King in the lead and Loggie 2nd and Mazza 3rd. With the race progressing Paul Huskinson, who had found great pace all weekend was working his way up the field, overtaking Moorad, Khazzoum and Alkazemi. But at that moment the safety car was out, Feyzulin had attempted a pass into turn 14 and lost control of the car. At the same time the pit stop window was open, meaning cars could pit. All cars except Alkazemi and Bukh did this, a move that would in the end see them right up the front. As all the cars came back out Loggie had a problem, he was stuck in second gear, but was leading the pack, and slowly. Meaning it took a long time to get back to the start where the safety car was waiting to pick them up. However, Loggie pitted again with this terminal failure, meaning Abdulnasser was picked up as the leader. However, by this time Alkazemi and Bukh had been circulating quicker than the rest of the pack and left the pits half a lap ahead on the rest. Meaning that in reality Bukh was in the lead from Alkazemi and then Abdulnaser in third - all very confusing with a lot of head scratching in the pits.
A few laps later King also pitted with technical issues meaning that as the race played out it was Bukh to take the last win of the season, second for Alkazemi and third for Albdulnaser.
However a post race penalty for Abdulnsaer meant that he was demoted, and Mazza was promoted to third.
So, George King was the 2021/22 Gulf Radical Cup Champion, with Ian Loggie Vice Champion and Alex Bukh taking third.
Later that night, at the awards ceremony King collected his well deserved Gulf Radical Cup. Alex Bukh was also awarded Rookie of the year, being the highest scoring rookie. Julien Monie was awarded the Gentlemen of the Season award, and Team Pakistan took the Across the Line award for the most racing laps completed of any entry.
A great season overall, with an average of 16 cars on the grid at every race, some of the best racing and a very worthy champion in George King. We wish him good luck in his further racing endeavours where he will surely continue to so the rest of the drivers the way!
Until next season, many thanks for the support of all the racers, team and fans of the Gulf Radical Cup!Final Championship Standings