EZY Racing, who recently signed up a historic partnership with Crocodile as their official clothing partner, had a ‘crocodilian’ weekend with their drivers Mudith Maddumarachchi and Sajaad Zuhair entertaining crowds with a dazzling display of racing during the Speed 2011 held at the Pannala Circuit - considered the most technical circuit in Sri Lanka.
Defending Rally Champions EZY Racing, who began 2011 by setting the Kandy streets on fire by dominating the Kandy Night Race in March, went into the race at Pannala to finish the season on a strong note. Mudith Maddumarachi, who joined the racing team in 2011 to represent them in the Standard Mini category, did well to qualify third on the grid during Saturdays qualifying round. Ace Driver Sajaad Zuhair, a dominant figure for this glamorous race team, provided the ideal qualifying result when he finished pole in the SLH 1600 category in his EZY Honda ER 6, ahead of Ashan Silva and Dinesh Jayawardane.
Mudith provided the ideal start for EZY Racing on Sunday when he displayed the prowess of his driving in the Standard Mini Class where he started third and managed to overtake both drivers in front of him to win his particular class. Mudith received a standing ovation especially for his overtaking maneuver on race leader Azlie Irshad, which was a daring move on the final lap of the race.
“Today was a true reflection of the skills of Mudith. We have always believed in Mudith’s capabilities and felt that he was somewhat unfortunate in the past races. This victory will certainly give him added confidence and we are sure that this would reflect positively in his future races” said a delighted Team Principal/ CEO, EZY Racing, Shafraz Hamzadeen. With one victory in the bag, all eyes were focused on Sajaad Zuhair who was on pole position in the SLH 1600 which was considered the hottest event for the day. Sajaad who had a wonderful start to the race, was soon given a stiff challenge by Dinesh Jayawardane who started fourth on the grid and managed to come out of turn one in third position, in hot pursuit of Ashan Silva. Dinesh who was displaying his true mettle was able to outbreak Ashan, going into turn six and was in hot pursuit of race leader Sajaad Zuhair. The next five laps saw the best motor racing, that Sri Lankan motor racing fans would have experienced for a long time as Dinesh presented all his skills in a bid to overtake Sajaad who held his cool all throughout the race to convert his pole position to a race victory. This definitely was true racing as Dinesh on two occasions managed to pull himself side by side along Sajaad’s car but had to let go of the throttle as Sajaad held the inner line.
After the race, a jubilant Sajaad went on to say: “This definitely is one of the best races I have driven. I thought Dinesh drove at his absolute best and it took a lot of effort to keep him behind. I was very determined to win this race as it was important that we finished the season on a high note. Ever since my topple in April at Foxhill, we have been working very hard to prepare the ER6 with the correct settings. Today the car responded beautifully. It handled itself much better and most importantly, it had the pace which we lacked in the races leading upto this. This victory reflects the hard work all of us have put in.”
The SLH 1600 event winner in the 2010 Foxhill Super Cross, recorded his first race win since he dominated the race during the Kandy Night Race in 2011. Sajaad further went on to say that the teams efforts of putting him into a race dominating position was what motivated him during a tough phase where he was without a race win after a heavy toppling incident in April.
EZY Racing, who have become a dominant figure in the motor racing arena almost had another championship in the bag when 2010 Rally Champion Shafraz Junaid, who was participating in his inaugural year in Formula racing almost won the championship when he finished on equal points with ‘The King of Formula Racing’ Dinesh Jayawardane. Dinesh who had a mechanical issue and had to retire from the race early, saw Shafraz who started fourth on the grid fighting his way up to second place with Ashan Silva going on to win the race. Dinesh was eventually classified as the Championship Winner in the Formula 1600 Class by virtue of him having more race wins in a season.
“We were very focused in going into this race”, said Hamzadeen. “This weekend was definitely a true indication of the tremendous strides we have made in our racing. We have been having concerns in the past about our circuit performance although we have been dominating the rally racing arena. Our team has put in dedicated hours working on our cars, skills, temperament and also fine tuning skills. The fact that Sajaad was able to lead from start to finish and Mudith succeeding with some brave overtaking to win the race, is altogether very encouraging for us. As far as we are concerned we did most things right this weekend. Therefore the result indicates our improvement out there. We still feel that we can improve further and will continue to work on our cars to make them better and suited to a variety of different circuits, as well as be competitive in all other formats,” said Hamzadeen. With the circuit racing calendar coming to an end and with only one more rally to conclude the season, EZY Racing have a strong chance to bag the championship for the third consecutive year. The team now shifts their focus to the final rally to be held in the vicinity of the Pelwatte Sugar Plantation where they intend supporting their championship winning drivers Rizvi Farouk and Shafraz Junaid who are jointly lying second in the drivers’ championship, with all necessary resources to win the Championship yet again.