Round 3 got underway at the Dubai Autodrome. This time being streamed live on Motorsport.TV.
Last round had seen dominance from Swiss driver Jacopo Mazza. With Ian Loggie absent (racing in the Gulf 12 Hour at Yas), it was left to Alex Bukhantsov to disrupt Mazza’s weekend, and that he did!
In testing it was the usual drivers at the top of the time sheets, including Amir Feyzulin, Mohammed Alkazemi and Timo Recker. Unfortunately due to illness Alkazemi was not able to take part in the races.
So after the first qualifying on Saturday morning it was Bukhantsov on pole, ahead of Feyzulin and Mazza.
Bukhantsov took the lead from Feyzulin, then Recker and Sweetnam. Mazza had made a bad start and was back down in 5th.
Onto lap 2, and in a strange turn of events, 3 cars ran wide and even spun at turn 7. First was Bukhantsov, then Sweetnam and Monie spinning off into the run off. Interestingly after the race it was thought that strong winds had contributed to this!
Meanwhile, Recker had caught the back of 2nd place Feyzulin, but Mazza had moved up to 4th, and was hot on the heals of Recker, making for a three way battle.
Putting in fast laps, one after another, Mazza had impressively moved past Recker and Feyzulin and up to second, now to hunt down Bukhantsov!
In the last minutes of the race Mazza had got the gap down to just 0.589, but he was unable to get close enough to make a pass, so it was Bukhantsov taking the win. Mazza second and Feyzulin third. Recker just 0.4 behind in fourth.
Race two started a few hours later, and again it was Bukhantsov taking the lead, but behind was an immense three way battle for second, between Feyzulin, Sweetnam and Recker. As the three of them came into the last corner Recker put an incredible move in, out braking both cars and up to second. This forced Feyzulin wide, Sweetnam slipped through dumping Feyzulin back to fourth!
Mazza had made another uncharacteristically bad start and was again on the charge back to the sharp end of the field. But with the scrapping Feyzulin and Sweetnam, it allowed him to get close and slip up to third on lap 3. Then passing Sweetnam into the last corner a lap later.
In second and with some clear air, Recker was the fastest car on the track and catching Bukhantsov, with still 17 mins left to run. Pushing hard and with only 5 mins to go he had got the gap down to 0.438, but with back markers approaching Bukhantsov was able to widen the gap, slipping through at a critical moment leaving Recker trailing. Also, Mazza had slipped past the back markers well and was now on the tail of Recker in the dying moments of the race.
As the pair flew though the notorious turn 6 to 7 complex, Recker ran a little wide, allowing Mazza to make his move. And that was it, a great race and another win for Bukhantsov. It seems if Mazza could finally make a good start he would be unbeatable!
The Enduro race took place the following day, and again it was Bukantsov taking the victory from Mazza and Feyzulin in third. Recker had been in the mix but was plagued by fuel pump issues that took him out off the race.
So a clean sweep for Bukhantsov this weekend, but some new faces to the championship and podium. Yas in a few weeks for sure will be a very interesting one.
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