Round Three of the Gulf Radical Cup took place at the world famous Yas Marina Circuit. Adding to the spectacle was the fact that the Gulf Radical Cup had attracted one of its strongest grids to date.
17 cars rolled out for the Sprint Race qualifying on the Friday morning. All eyes were on George King, who had won every single race this season so far. But with some of the new drivers showing great pace in testing, was that clean sheet about to be broken?
Not yet, as it was indeed King who took the pole from his team mate Ian Loggie by 0.321 of a second. In third was Alex Bukhantsov with Usmaan Mughal in 4th. Newcomers to this event, Gregg Gorski and Jacopo Mazza took 5th and 6th respectively.
Going into Race 1, George King got his usual perfect start and edged into the lead, closely followed by Ian Loggie in second. Feyzulin and Khazzoum got a little too close, on the opening lap making contact. Gorski who had made a poor start was now working his way through the field, and as the race drew to a close he was chasing third place Feyzulin , about 0.9 of a second per lap faster. But, as the old saying goes; “I just needed one more lap”, it wasn’t quite enough for Gorski to make the pass. Loggie had retired the car leaving Mughal safe with his first podium for second place and Feyzulin holding onto third.
Sprint Race 2, it was again King who took the lead into the first turn, but behind him they were four wide. Mazza, Loggie, Bukhantsov and Kazemi. However, with great respectful racing they jostled and filtered through with Loggie wining the 4 way battle, Mazza and Kazemi close behind.
As the field came around to the main pits (all races were starting from the Support Pits) Ray-Yu Wang put his nose up the inside of Khazzoum, but they made contact and spun out at high speed. With cars going everywhere it split the pack. Huskinson came off best from the incident and lead the pack in 10th place.
On the second lap Mazza ran wide in to turn 5 allowing Kazemi to slip through to 3rd.
The race settled a bit with King pulling away, leaving Loggie safe for second, but the fight was on for third. Kazemi now lead a train of three cars, he was being chased by Bukhantsov, Feyzulin and Mazza. Further down the field Moorad was making his way forward after dropping to the back while avoiding the first lap incident.
As the race drew to a close it looked safe for King to take the win with Loggie in second, but third was still all to play for. Kazemi for now was holding onto his second podium of the weekend, and now with Bukhantsov having passed Mazza they were starting to trip over each other, just allowing Kazemi to pull a small gap.
And that is how it ended, King taking his 8th race win, Loggie second with Kazemi holding on to a well deserved third.
So, into Saturday and the Enduro qualifying and race - easy right! Well, maybe not!
Qualifying went off without incident, again King taking Pole from Loggie and Bukhantsov in third. Then the drivers waited some 8 hours for other championships to compete their races. One of which was the Hankook 6 hour (incidentally with Gregg Gorski taking part in his Lamborghini), anyway, just in the last few moments of that race a huge crash at Turn 1 caused considerable damage to the armco (drivers all ok), but this put another hour delay on the start of the Enduro Race.
Then the call came through that the delay would be longer with no time estimate given. This left the GRC organisers with some tough choices, cancel the race, possibly look to postpone to the following day, or, to race, on the South Circuit. Bizarrely this exact same scenario had occurred a few years ago when a Lambourgini Trofeo car went through a barrier at the end of the back straight.
The decision was taken to race, and the south circuit was prepared. Drivers were given a 15 minute test session before normal race routine could start.
Again, King got a great start but Mughal was also storming into turn 1, trying to run the outside of King, but not quite having enough he settled into 2nd place, with Bukhantsov third. But as the drivers came to the end of their third lap the safety car was deployed. Ciosek had run wide in the ‘link’ corner and could not get the car into reverse. It took a couple of laps to get him moved and we were racing again. King approached the start line very slowly and Mughal went for it as the lights turned green. Side by side as they went over the line it was King that held the inside into turn one, and once again into the lead. But maybe this was Team Pakistans chance, they had no pit penalty, where as King had 15 seconds from his previous race win. King was first to pit, leading Mughal in the lead, then it was Mughal in the following lap.
But as they exited the pits King remained in the lead - how? Well the answers would come shortly.
As all the other drivers exited the pits a great battle was developing for 2nd, 3rd and 4th, between Khazzoum, Feyzulin and the chasing Gorski.
All of a sudden a 20 second penalty was posted on the timing screens for King, for incorrect pit stop time, this must have been how he had retained the lead, but now with the penalty he would have to work hard to build up a gap to the chasing group to keep that lead. However, with the battle for 2nd slowing the pace, it looked like King would retain the lead and claim his 9th win, fantastic!
The battle for 2nd had now grown in size with Bukhanstov joining the party. As the last lap came about it was Gorski lining up a move to take 3rd place from Feyzulin. The plan, to try and get a run on him over the line, but in doing so Bukanstiov saw the gap and went for it, running Gorski wide and ultimately spinning off! Great racing from all, no hard feelings and all smiles at the end.
Another demonstration of consistent, fast driving from King, but glimmers of hope from the chasing pack that the they are getting closer! But i’m sure King would disagree!
Just a 10 day gap now, and the Gulf Radical Cup is back in action at the Dubai Autodrome, with qualifying kicking off on the 4th of Feb.