In the first of our new series of F4UAE Team Profiles, we look back at an outfit which has cemented its reputation for growing new talent - and succeeding! Our reigning champions, Xcel Motorsport.
Formerly the Energy Dubai Kart Team – and outfit that has to date become multiple national champions, world champions and European vice champions – the team is one of the leading professional motorsport teams in the UAE lead by team owner Kevin Day and team manager Paul Hardy.
With an aim to always increase the level of karting in the region, offering high level staff and equipment at a reasonable budget, the team made its foray into open-wheeler racing when the F4UAE Championship began in 2016.
Simply wanting to get wins initially, two-time karting world champion and driver coach, Sean Babington, was the team's lead driver in the 2016/2017 season. Babington went on to claim 11 podiums, one race win, finished third in the championship on debut and was given the F4UAE Sportsmanship Award.
Additional one-off drives came from Indian racer Ricky Donison at the season-opening Trophy Round, plus Energy Dubai karter Lucas Petersson (2016/2017 Junior Rotax Max UAE National Champion) who debuted at the finale, scoring a podium on debut.
The Energy Dubai team returned for season two but bigger and with larger hopes, thanks tocommercial backing from SILBERPFEIL Energy which enabled them to enter multiple cars all season with a total of seven drivers sharing seats throughout the six-round championship.
Petersson returned for the full season and impressed in his racing development by scoring two race wins, five podium finishes and three fastest laps on his way to finishing fourth outright in the championship; the highest placed driver in the team.
Other drivers included Sami Taoufik, Marzio Moretti, Jake Dalton, Olli Caldwell, plus Caio Collet and Patrik Pasma who both have since gone on to finish fifth and eighth respectively in the 2019 Formula Renault Eurocup Championship.
Across the season, the team scored 6 race wins, 18 podiums, 3 double podiums, 8 fastest laps and topped Round 4’s qualifying. Finishing a close second in the team’s championship behind 2017/2018 champions, Dragon F4, made the Dubai-based team hungrier to make it one better in 2018/2019.
Last season was undoubtedly the team’s biggest and best. Rebranded as Xcel Motorsport, excelling is exactly what they did.
With all new drivers for the season, Xcel welcomed four drivers at round one including Nicola Marinangeli and Matteo Nannini from Italy, Rafa Villanueva from Spain, and 15-year-old Shihab Alhabsi from Oman. Tijmen van der Helm also joined for two rounds.
Nannini went on to win his maiden open-wheeler and circuit racing title, and seal the Rookie Championship, while helping the team also take the Teams championship too – the first time a team in F4UAE has secured a triple crown of victories. The team's total score of results included 11 race wins, 30 podiums, 11 fastest laps, and four out of five rounds topping qualifying.
Additionally, once F4UAE was complete, Xcel Motorsport took their outfit to Europe to contest the Spanish F4 Championship. Al Habsi competed in four rounds and finished 5th outright with 1 race win, 5 podiums, and 2 pole positions, while Nannini also picked up silverware in his only appearance at round one.
“We are very proud with the growth of Xcel Motorsport in the past few years,” said team manager Paul Hardy. “To go from being just a local UAE karting team to competing in not only F4UAE but also expanding into the Spanish F4 in 2019 is a massive achievement for us and this is only just the beginning.
“Without a doubt, our greatest achievements to date have to be becoming 2018/2019 Drivers, Teams and Rookie Champions. Not only this but Xcel Motorsport won 60% of the races in the whole season.
“Heading into the 2019/2020 season the main focus is for us to retain our drivers, rookie and team championships. It’s looking like we are going to have a very strong line up for the new season, whilst we are also bringing on some rookie drivers from karting who we are looking to then take over to compete in the 2020 Spanish F4 Championship with us. We have some really exciting plans on how we wish to keep developing the team in 2020,” concluded Hardy.
To read more about Xcel Motorsport’s karting and F4 achievements, and to follow them in the upcoming 2019/2020 F4UAE Championship, head to: