UAE motorsport has been handed its biggest success to date when the Humaid Al Masaood claimed his maiden win for the UAE-based Oryx Racing team in the seventh round of the American Le Mans Series (ALMS).
Driving on the Baltimore Street Circuit, it is the highest level circuit win for an Emirati driver, who only made his debut in the series in July.
"I am thrilled with the success and extremely proud to be the first victorious Emirati in the American Le Mans Series," said Al Masaood, whose Oryx team now lie third in the ALMS championship standings.
Al Masaood, and his partner Steve Kane, started second on the grid in their Mazda Lola Coupé, behind their sister car, Dyson Racing, but took the lead on Lap 34, some 45 minutes into the race, when the Dyson car pitted; a moment Al Masaood believes was the turning point of the race due to Oryx changing drivers and getting away more quickly.
"The pit-stop was a major turning point in the race, and our pit crew was able to demonstrate how far we've come in such a short time," Al Masaood said. "Steven [Kane] got away quickly as we changed drivers, which meant we came out in front."
The British driver Kane then battled hard to keep hold of the lead that Al Masaood earned the team and eventually secured victory by 6.962 seconds.
"We still had to drive smart to keep the win. Driving smart is definitely a challenge, and it is easy to make a mistake especially with the cold tyres, Al Masaood said. "There is no run off on a street circuit so it is easy to go off and end up in the wall — you really have to be very precise."
Kane was equally elated by the rapid progress the team has made in five races — they missed the first two rounds of the series.
"It has been fantastic to come into this series and to win a race in only our fifth attempt," Kane said.
Al Masaood and Kane claimed a third place on their debut, and have been focusing on reaching the top step since.
"It shows how much talent Humaid has," Kane said. "He has come so far since I met him at the 24 hours of Dubai and told him then he has what it takes to go all of the way."
After the celebrations in Baltimore, the focus now shifts to the Modspace AMLS Monterey presented by Patron, at the legendary Laguna Seca circuit, which takes place the weekend of 28th September - 1st October 2011, where Oryx Racing will be hoping for a similar success.