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10 November 2017

Keanu Al Azhari and Jamie Day claim front row starts while Kyle Blockley and Abdullah Al Rawahi make into the Grand Finals


Team UAE's young drivers - Keanu Al Azhari and Jamie Day - continued their impressive performances to claim front row starts for the Finals intheir respective classes at the 2017 Rotax MAX Challenge Grand Finals, at the Kartdromo Internacional do Algarve in Portugal.

Al Azhari has been one of the pace setters in the Micro MAX class all week in Portugal. In the Pre-Final he was again at the head of a very competitive field of young drivers from around the globe. He made a typically strong start and took command of the race early on, with local hero Adrian Malheiro following in his slipstream.

The pair proceeded to pull away from their pursuers as they extended the gap with every lap. Late in the race Malheiro managed to get by Al Azhari, who simply tucked in behind the Portuguese driver as they crossed the finish line nose to tail, the pair will start the Final on Saturday from the front row.

Al Azhari, son of multiple UAE motor racing champion Karim Al Azhari, has been the revelation of this edition of the Grand Finals. He made his way through the UAE based junior rental kart series and made his mark on the UAE Rotax MAX championship in the past year. The diminutive Dubai schoolboy is making the most of his foray onto the world stage.

Day has also been at the forefront of the tightly contested Mini MAX class, the UAE champion emerging as the driver to beat in the field of 36 youngsters contesting for the biggest prize in Rotax MAX karting.

The Dubai schoolboy managed to make a good start, but early on was engulfed in the pack and dropped down to sixth place. But he dug deep and made his way up towards the front, claiming second place by mid-race distance. Thereafter he set about in pursuit of race leader French champion Marcus Armand and in doing so pulled a handy gap on the rest of the field.

Armand was first with Day second, ensuring that the Team UAE driver will start on the front row for the Final, no better place to plot a title win on Saturday.

Also impressing with his relentless progress was Theo Kekati, who has edged his way closer to the front with each race and again did not disappoint as he survived several battles in the tightly contested pack behind the leaders. He was up to sixth at one point but, with positions changing with every lap, had to settle for eighth and with it securing a starting slot at the sharp end of proceedings for the final.

Abdullah Al Rawahi, racing with Team UAE in Omani colours, drove a strong race to finish tenth in the DD2 Pre-Final and with it a place on the grid for the Final.

In the DD2 Masters Class Kyle Blockley was the only one of the three Team UAE drivers in that class who did enough to make it to the Final after finishing 13th in the Pre-Final.

A mention must be made of Lucas Petersson who drove a storming race in the DD2 Pre-Final, making his way to 11th and chasing down a top ten finish and a slot in the Finals. But he was punted off with a few laps remaining, and in the end limped home down in 24th, the Dubai youngster delivered one of the drive's of the day but his efforts sadly were not rewarded.

Thus five of Team UAE's eleven drivers will line up on the grid, in their respective classes, for the Rotax MAX Challenge Grand Finals on Saturday.

Team UAE Manager Guy Sheffield commented: "We knew our juniors are very strong thanks to the level we have established in the UAE Rotax MAX Challenge, but it has come as a very pleasant surprise that our youngsters are proving to be the drivers to beat at this year's Grand Finals. Keanu, Jamie and Theo have not put a foot wrong all week and now we have our fingers crossed for the Finals."

"It was great to see Kyle and Abdullah progress to the finals of their classes, both delivering strong drives in fields that were extremely close with tough racing. Making it into the last 36 of the 72 drivers is a great achievement and we are all proud of them for their efforts."

"In the end it was a bittersweet day, for those who did not make it into the Grand Finals. However every driver did the UAE proud with their commitment to the Grand Finals. For many of them it was a steep learning curve and they will return home better drivers by virtue of the immense experience an international event of this nature provides. And who knows they may well be here again next year..."

UAE team during photo of all drivers 


Rotax MAX Challenge 2017 Grand Finals

Eleven drivers from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) are based in the seaside town of Portimao, in Portugal, for the Rotax MAX Grand Finals which takes place at the Kartdromo Internacional do Algarve from 5 to 11 November 2017.

The team consists of the UAE's best Rotax MAX drivers from the 2016/2017 season, among them several champions, who will come up against the best drivers in the world in this series of karting.

The group join 360 drivers, from 60 nations, competing in this prestigious karting event to determine who will be this year's Rotax MAX world champions.

Team UAE consists of Emirati racer Amna Al Qubaisi in the MAX category, father and son Kevin and Jamie Day in the DD2 Masters and Mini MAX respectively, brothers Jakob and Lachlan Robinson in DD2 and Junior MAX, DD2 Masters Tony Hogg and Kyle Blockley, Lucas Petersson in DD2, Liam Crystal in Junior MAX, Theo Kekati in Mini MAX and Keanu Al Azhari, son of multiple UAE racing champion Karim Al Azhari, in the Micro MAX class.

Travelling with Team UAE is Omani DD2 driver Abdullah Al Rawahi as well as Bahraini champion Khaled Al Saei in the MAX Class.

The first Rotax MAX Grand Finals were held in 2000 in Puerto Rico and since then has become a regular fixture on the international karting calendar. Dubai based Sean Babington won the DD2 title in 2014 as part of Team UAE.

Useful links:

Live Streaming>>>

Official UAE Rotax Max Challenge Facebook Page for updates>>>

Al Ain Raceway Facebook Page>>>

Al Ain Raceway Instagram Page>>>

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