Dubai Grand Racing weekend review
The Dubai Grand Racing Weekend has drawn to a close. If you are interesting in the highlights, attached is the press release from the Dubai Autodrome providing a good summary.
Grand Racing returned to Dubai Autodrome on 11 & 12 April 2008 for the final round of the combined GP2 Asia and Speedcar Series spectacle. Around 20,000 fans witnessed some of the best racing seen in the series to date with Speedcar crowning Johnny Herbert as their first Champion, GP2 Asia newly crowned Champion Romain Grosjean won a race as did debut winner Marco Bonanomi, while the racing provided by the local DAMC Open Saloons and Superstock motorcycles was out of the top drawer. Off-track activities in the Village and Paddock were swarming with race fans soaking up the big motorsport event atmosphere.
In the Speedcar Series â€œIt could not have happened to a nicer blokeâ€ was the sentiment in the pit lane after the second race on the final day. Englishman Johnny Herbert performed one of the great come back acts in motorsport by winning the inaugural Speedcar Series championship despite coming to the two Dubai rounds trailing championship leader Frenchman Jean Alesi by 15 points. In fact prior to the Dubai round the focus was on German Uwe Alzen and Alesi who appeared favourites to take the title. But the experts did not take into account the tenacity and determination that Herbert displayed to take the title.
Speaking after his remarkable achievement Herbert said, â€œIt worked magnificently for me as realistically after Bahrain I thought I had no chance and never thought that I would win the title. Nevertheless I came to Dubai Autodrome knowing what I had to do and achieved Mission 1 yesterday by winning. Starting from mid-pack in Race 2 I knew it would be difficult so I knew to stay out of trouble. I think the championship has been fantastic with great racing at every round and to be the first Champion is fantastic.â€
Although the 2008 GP2 Asia was already decided the fact is the young, future Formula One stars, are always out to impress in the series. Newly crowned Champion France’s Romain Grosjean (ART Grand Prix) stamped his authority in the series by claiming a hard fought win in Race 1 of GP2 Asia during the Grand Racing weekend at Dubai Autodrome on Friday. His victory came at the expense of Brazilian Bruno Senna (iSport International) who dominated until the final laps when he pitted a second time for tyres ending what was a dominant performance but ended in heartbreak. Race 2 on Saturday provided Italy’s Marco Bonanomi (Piquet Sports) with his maiden win after a tough race which included a Safety Car period. He fought off the attentions of a hard charging Buemi to top the podium and win the final race of the inaugural GP2 Asia Series.
The support races provided their own excitement with Rod Scott (Al Yousuf Yamaha) and Abdul Aziz Binladin (Arabian Falcon Kawasaki) battling it out for the UAE National Championship in two thrilling races that saw Binladin win both and set up a grand final in the last national championship race day later this month. The increasingly popular DAMC Open Saloons which continued it’s progress into one of the most entertaining racing series in local motorsport. After a relatively subdued DAMC Open Saloons Race 1 which Costas Papantonis (Mourista/House of Portier Seat) the Porsche brigade raised their game a notch for Race 2. From the start it was again Papantonis and Karim Al Azhari (Al Nabooda Porsche) who set the early pace with Ala Malak (Team Bumble Bees Porsche), Nader Zahour (Top Line Motors Porsche) and Harris Irfan (Porsche) doing the chasing. And what a chase it was as the top four battled it out door-handle-to-door-handle. Swapping places on just about every corner and at times going through the bends four abreast. In the end it was Al Azhari clinching it from Malak by the narrowest of margins with Papantonis, Zahour and Harris in their slipstream.
Thus concluded the first season of Grand Racing – featuring Speedcar and GP2 Asia – new Champions, new stars and a successful new series which looks set to become the premier (non-Formula One) racing championship in the Middle East and Asia in years to come. Dubai Autodrome Chairman Saeed Khalfan said, â€œThis weekend we witnessed the future stars of Formula One fighting it out in the GP2 Asia series. One day soon several of them will be household names and you saw them here at Dubai Autodrome on their rise to the top. We also witnessed the veterans of Formula One battling it out in the Speedcar Series races with our great friend and true professional Johnny Herbert winning both races and the Championship in fantastic fashion. It has been a great weekend and a taste of what fans can expect in the future at Dubai Autodrome.â€