Round 3 was always going to be a serious International affair after seeing the region’s top four young drivers qualify within nine tenths of a second after some 15 laps.
Their early morning qualifying practice saw Indian racer Zaamin Jaffer steal pole position by just three tenths from 18 year old helicopter pilot Natasha Seatter from Malaysia. The gap back to Lebanese driver Joe Ghanem was even closer at just a tenth.
So come the afternoon race it was Seatter who was able to anticipate the start successfully and pull a gap on pole man Jaffer, followed closely by Ghanem, Emirati driver Mohamed Al Muttawa, Syrian racer Yazan Hamadeh and Haytham Sultan Al Ali from the UAE.
The drivers were inch perfect for 10 laps with no visible mistakes demonstrating huge maturity and talent as they lapped the circuit with speeds that averaged over 150kph of the full 4.3 km International Circuit.
Jaffer was able to close the gap setting the fastest lap of the race on lap 8 and then overtaking Seatter on the last lap as Seatter was hampered with a gear selection issue to take a win in his maiden race in the Middle East’s new single seater championship. Seatter finished just two tenths behind with Ghanem sharing the podium with a fine third place.
The anticipation was excruciating on the race morning as this small but high quality grid of young drivers all waited for their second chance of glory. 18 year old Natasha Seatter had caused quit a stir the previous day as she led the race to the delight of the spectators who were clearly crestfallen as she was caught and passed by Zaamin Jaffer on the very last lap of the race. Joe Ghanem had an uncharacteristically bad day being nearly a second of the pace, although he did get onto the podium.
So it was a rolling start with Jaffer and Seatter on the front row both clearly determined to get into Turn One first. The pack roared off down the front straight almost as one but it was Seatter who was in front as they braked hard at the 100 meter board. Unfortunately, she carried perhaps a little bit too much speed into the corner and the car ran wide onto the dirty part of the circuit and spun letting everyone else past. But being the fighter she is, she then set about catching the pack setting the fastest time of any driver on laps 2 and 3.
At the end of the first lap it was Joe Ghanem in the lead followed very closely by the Yas Marina Circuit supported Mohamed Al Mutawaa in second place with poleman Jaffer some three seconds back having been caught out by the chaos in Turn 1.
The focus was now on Seatter some eighteen seconds behind the leader but catching fast. She managed to get past Emirati driver Haytham Sultan Al Ali on lap 3 and Syrian driver Yazan Hamadeh on lap 5. But with Al Mutawaa another 10 seconds up the road this was as far as she would get in this 10 lap race setting her fastest time on the last lap.
Meanwhile Jaffer, who had ended up in fourth place after the Turn 1 incident was having another brilliant drive getting past Al Muttawa on lap 3, setting fastest lap of the race on lap 9 and closing the gap to Ghanem down to less than half a second at the chequered flag.
Rounds 5 & 6 take place on the challenging Nation Circuit at the Dubai Autodrome on 25th November.
1 Joe Ghanem (Lebanon)
2 Zaamin Jaffer (India) Fastest Lap 1:41.346
3 Mohamed Al Mutawaa (UAE)
4 Natasha Seatter (Malaysia)
5 Yazan Hamadeh (Syria)
6 Haytham Sultan Al Ali (UAE)
Courtesy of Gulf Sport