Shihab claims race win in UAE Formula 4 opening round
Oman's talented racer Shihab al Habsi began the year on a promising note as the 15 year old won a race in the first round of the FIA Formula 4 UAE Championship, which was held at the Dubai Autodrome in Dubai on Thursday and Friday.
Taking part in the third season of the F4UAE, the first round featured four races and kicked off the 2019 season as a support to the famed Hankook Dubai 24 Hour event.
Ten drivers from eight countries took part in the opening round, the first of the five-round season which runs until early March 2019.
Racing for Xcel Motorsport, Shihab came fourth in the opening race but managed to pick points. However, he was forced to retire in the second race and competing the third race on fresh set of tyres came on top ahead of Italian Matteo Nannini, who also races for Xcel. Shihab timed his win in 2m:02.132s to edge Nannini, who clocked 2:02.352.
Besides Shihab and Nannini, the other members of the Xcel Motorsport (former Energy Dubai Team) are Rafael Villanueva of Spain and Nicola Marinangeli of Italy.
The last race of the first round saw Shihab finish fourth again to end the first round at overall fifth place with 49 points.
Nannini with a win and two second-place finishes emerged as overall leader with 71 points and is followed by Paraguay's Joshua Durksen (67). Poland's Lucas Alecco Roy with 61 and Portugal's Rui Andrade with 51 are ahead of Shihab on the overall leaderboard.
Being added to Dubai 24 Hour endurance race for the first time, the programme sees a new spotlight being put on the Middle East’s premier open-wheeler development category.
“Being part of the Dubai 24 Hour weekend is a huge positive for F4UAE, with our young stars of the future being able to race in front of so many respected international teams and drivers,” said promoter Carl Rolaston.
Both Dubai Autodrome and Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi will host rounds of F4UAE, with the final three events running back-to-back, finishing on March 2, 2019.
Governed by the Automobile & Touring Club of the UAE (ATCUAE) and promoted by AUH Motorsports, F4UAE is open to drivers aged 15 years and above. UAE F4 was created by the world’s governing body of motorsport, the FIA, to help young drivers bridge the gap between existing regional racing series and karting, to European competition and potentially F1.
Utilising the Tatuus chassis from Italy with the Abarth Turbo engine, the series allows drivers extra seat time to become familiar with the purpose-built race cars. The next round will be held at the Yas Marina circuit from January 31-Feburary 2.