x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Support races tell amazing tales

The most extraordinary story to emerge from the support races at Yas Marina Circuit last weekend is that of Khaled al Mudhaf, a Kuwaiti driver who came fourth in the GTC race.

The most extraordinary story to emerge from the support races at Yas Marina Circuit last weekend is that of Khaled al Mudhaf, a Kuwaiti driver who came fourth in the GTC race. It was only his third time driving on any track and he shaved nine seconds off his first lap time at Yas. His Ginetta G50 is kept in Dubai because there is no track in Kuwait. He has the first racing licence issued in Kuwait. "I am number 001."

Al Mudhaf's new-found love of racing isn't just confined to the track, either. Next month, he will race a Nissan Patrol in the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge. "It will be my first rally, too," he said. He will have one training session in Liwa before the race. Abu Dhabi's Falcon Racing team celebrated its results in the GTC event with Khaled al Qubaisi coming third and Saif al Assam coming fifth in Porsches.

"The field was very competitive so to get a third and a fifth is an amazing result," said al Qubaisi. The track got the drivers' approval, with a tight turn near the Yas Hotel favoured by al Qubaisi. "It is like Monaco or Singapore and there is not much room for the cars," he said. "You get close to the wall, it's an amazing feeling." Al Assam fought hard for his fifth placing. His Porsche had braking problems in practice, and he bent his front suspension on the second lap.

Last April, Falcon Racing was looking for sponsorship from Abu Dhabi companies. Now al Assam wears a racing suit embroidered with the logos of Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank, Finance House, Etoile, Taqa, Bead architects and Mepa insurance. Alex Renner, whose company Alex Renner Motors supports the Porsches, modestly described Falcon's results as "acceptable". The Gulf Radical two-seater racers, with Caterhams and a Juno in the invitational class, ran two races.

Barry Hope, the director of Gulfsport Racing, is glad the Radicals raced at the Yas Marina Circuit after missing out on supporting the first Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. "We have raced in Bahrain to support the V8s for the last four years so it was good to be in Abu Dhabi to support the V8s here, too."