UAE based professional driver development series, Formula Gulf Academy kicked off season seven with two days of training and testing on Abu Dhabi’s fabulous Yas Marina Circuit.
Coached and mentored by multiple champion Tommy Erdos, five young international racers drove identical 186bhp slicks and wings Formula race cars over 50 laps of the 10 turn, 3.15 km North Circuit. Having learnt half the GP circuit they moved onto the full 21 turn, 5.55kms GP circuit on day two.
Benchmark lap times were set by Saudi Arabia’s Omar Gazzaz, the current FGA Vice Champion. He put in a lap of 2:13.748 on the GP circuit, just half a second off the outright lap record.
Multiple karting champion and F4 SEA competitor, 16 year old Kane Shepherd, got to grips with the car quickly. Kane explained, “ Yes, I like the car. It is lighter, has more aero, is quicker and has softer brakes than the F4 Renault / Mygale I’ve been racing”.
Leading Emirati single seater racer, 18 year old Saeed Al Ali was quick, having competed successfully in season six of the Academy.
15 year old Tara Eichenberger, fresh from several seasons of kart racing in the UAE and Europe made her debut in Formula Gulf Academy. With no previous car racing experience, she had a considerable task of learning to drive something with suspension, aerodynamics, significant weight transfer and a gearbox! However, her intelligent approach and steady progress over the two days was rewarded with some very respectable lap times.
Another 15 year old rookie, Filip Kaminiarz, following in the footsteps of his Polish compatriot and Formula Gulf Champion Alex Karkosik, came with limited racing experience from the KIA Lotos championship. But despite no prior single seater experience, once he mastered the art of aero braking and the manual sequential gearbox, started putting in some decent lap times.
Organiser, GulfSport Racing’s Martin Hope said “Well, here we are again with talented young drivers coming from overseas to train on the great circuits we have here in the UAE. We are also expecting two 18 year old drivers from Saudi Arabia, both of whom recently completed their basic training with us, to join us at the first points scoring event at the Dubai Autodrome on 17th November”.