|It was yet another brilliant result for ‘Intrepid Force Rotax’ team driver Kevin Reichard over the weekend, when he sealed the win yet again at the second round of the Middle East Karting Cup (MEKC) at the Kartdrome at Dubai Autodrome.|
A shipping problem initially hampered the Austrian’s chances of being so competitive early on in the week, when all of the team’s spare parts and data logging equipment failed to arrive. The first day’s practice Wednesday was actually cancelled due to a logistics issue with customs, leaving only a limited time to do any testing prior to qualifying Friday. Local hotshot Sheikh Hasher Al Maktoum set the pace to begin with, clocking the best lap for the session for what would be a very short-lived record at the Kartdrome. Attempting to come to terms with the challenging circuit, Reichard was a close 2nd fastest but struggling in the meantime to work with the standard set-up of his Intrepid chassis.
The afternoon heats saw a confident Sheikh Hasher take victory from pole position in both events, with the Austrian starting next to him on the outside grid. Unfortunately, Reichard found himself receiving a 10-second penalty in the first race when his airbox became dislodged, relegating him back to 3rd. The following race came down more to game-plan, as the Intrepid Force Rotax driver managed to comfortably catch and shadow the Sheikh’s every move so as to get his measure for the finals. Finishing a definite 2nd, it was looking like it would come down to a battle of the Titans Saturday.
According to Reichard’s mechanic Steve Chapman, they were relying totally on all they had to work with and the disadvantage was obvious. “Our ultimate pace was still lacking a touch on the stop watch. Even with one of our best HRS supplied engines, I felt we were down on power compared to the leader and trying to compensate what we could with the chassis wasn’t helping this… but we still didn’t have our spare parts. Once we got some data from the engine the next day to work with, the performance was immediately noticeable, matching the pace-setter and at times looking stronger.”
With the eventual arrival of the race gear to the circuit on finals day, a 3-lap warm-up on the new tyres gave little time to find the ideal set-up going into the pre-final. Reichard soon found better pace, however, capitalizing on the smallest hesitation by Sheikh Hasher while passing a back-marker, to steal the lead for a clear win of over three seconds by the end of the 20 laps.
The final got underway with what may have appeared to be a questionable line-up on the front row and with Sheikh Hasher’s familiarity of the track, made it difficult for Reichard to overtake him. The pair traded places briefly with an immediate fight-back from the local hero, only to lose his chance of taking the prize win as Reichard pulled away. Pushing hard, the young Intrepid team pilot increased the gap to 8+ seconds and smashed the lap record set in qualifying by his closest rival at round two. As the temperatures hovered in the mid-30’s, UAE-based driver Scott Latham attempted to claim 2nd from Sheikh Hasher, but was once again overcome around mid-race and had to settle for 3rd.
For the deserved winner, Reichard now has a strong lead over Italy’s Piero de Marchi in the MEKC, with the third and final round deciding the overall champion at Ghibli Raceway, Egypt April 16–19.
Kevin Reichard - “Even though the event didn’t start off the best for me in Dubai, I really enjoyed the racing and of course, I’m very happy to take another win in the series. The Kartdrome has nice facilities but this would have to be the most difficult track that I have driven on. It has some really tight hairpins and using tyres with more grip than I am used to, so I had to work a lot on my driving.”