|By PR Newswire||
|November 6, 2013 03:58 AM EST||
DUBAI, UAE, November 6, 2013 /PRNewswire/ --
- Reigning champion Tannir targeting triple crown
- Binladin and Raja aim to make life difficult for the champion
- New faces set to make their mark in the Rookie Cup
It's been a long summer for the UAE Sportbike Championship brigade, who are now itching to kick start their 2013-2014 at Dubai Autodrome this Friday (8 November) where a quality field will line-up on the grid to challenge reigning champion Mahmoud Tannir for the UAE's top motorcycle racing prize.
Tannir is double UAE champion and starts the season as the man to beat aboard his immaculately turned out Triumph Daytona, but he does face a potent bunch of rivals who will be keen to prevent him from claiming the triple-crown.
Ahead of the season opener Tannir revealed, "I have been enjoying time with the family. I don't stop training so whenever I don't answer my phone that means I'm in the gym or asleep! I would like to defend the title for the second time."
"I'm getting older but not slower..." warned the champion.
Among the most likely front runners are the likes of Saudi Falcon rider Abdulaziz Binladin on his Kawasaki and Dubai based Indian ace Surya Raja aboard his Yamaha.
Binladin is no stranger to the top step of the Dubai Autodrome podium. He moves from the non-championship 1000 Class to the all-important 600 Class with his sights firmly set on the title. He campaigned in the British Superbikes last year and is at the peak of his powers ahead of the new season.
Last year Raja started his campaign with a bang and was a contender for the title to the end, but credit to Tannir who gained the momentum midseason and managed to beat Raja to the big prize. Nevertheless, after winning the Rookie Cup in his first season of racing, Raja signaled his arrival on the local Sportbikes scene in the best way possible and is now a perennial front-runner who will most likely be at the sharp end of proceedings every time he starts a race.
Raja said ahead of the new season, "I know now we have the pace to run at the top. I must be honest that I was surprised to win so early on in last season after my rookie year. I learned a lot last year. I also have had lessons on staying mentally strong and how to sustain a title campaign. All this means that this year I come back stronger."
There are other riders who will line-up for the new season quite capable of challenging the trio of pre-season favourites. These include Ducati mounted Joe Oxley, who tasted victory last year establishing himself as a force on the local scene, and Yamaha rider Omar Naji who was the most improved and one of the most consistent riders of the last campaign. Chris Doyle on a Triumph and Michael Collins on a Yamaha are relative newcomers, but the preseason buzz is that they are both very fast riders to watch as the season progresses.
The Rookie Cup will invariably be a hot contest with several new faces set to make their race debuts on Friday, among them are the likes of Darry Pais (Honda), Vafi Khan (Yamaha) and Nasir Hussain (Yamaha).
Veterans Alan Boyter (Kawasaki) and Damian van Blerk (Ducati) will line-up for the invitational 1000 Class, which runs as a non-championship race within a race.
These first of two rounds take place on Dubai Autodrome's National Circuit configuration, and are part of the 16 rounds 2013-2014 UAE Sportbikes Championship.
Track action, on Friday, starts with the warm-up at 09:30am, followed by qualifying at 09:55am with the first 10-lap race scheduled for 11:40am and race two at 14:20pm.
Also on the bill during the course of the day are two rounds of the NGK Racing Series and Bike Track Day. Entry for spectators, with access to grandstands and the paddock area, is free.
Links to high resolution images:
Mahmoud Tannir leads Surya Raja - the two are expected to be front runners in the 2013-2014 season
Mahmoud Tannir was a frequent visitor to the Dubai Autodrome podium last season and expects to do the same this season
SOURCE Dubai Autodrome