Bahrain International Circuit, ‘The Home of Motorsport in the Middle East’, hosted an exhilarating final round of the BIC 2000cc Challenge on Friday, as Shaikh Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa captured the drivers’ championship.
The concluding meeting of the 2010/2011 season was held as part of the first-ever ‘National Racing Finals’, which also saw the last round of this year’s Bahrain National Drag Racing Championship take place late in the night.
A massive crowd witnessed Shaikh Hamad win the coveted 2000cc title for the first time in his career. He secured the crown after claiming the second of the day’s two races, held under sweltering conditions in the Sakhir desert race track.
Tim Birkin was the winner of the opening event. That helped him finish as the runner-up to Shaikh Hamad in the championship.
While the pair were the top two drivers in Class A, Hisham Al Othman improved his chances of claiming the Class B title after winning both his category’s events.
Both Birkin and Al Othman were in first place in their classes after Friday’s first 15-lap race.
Shaikh Hamad started from pole but it was Birkin and an inspired Hussain Karimi who led the field to the checkered flag.
Birkin, driving a Honda Integra, managed to overtake Shaikh Hamad during the race, and he was closely followed by Karimi, who was behind the wheel of a Honda CRX. They did well to keep their lead all the way up until the end, when Birkin recorded a winning time of 20mins 59.076secs, narrowly outpacing Karimi to the top of the time sheet by a mere 0.296secs.
Shaikh Hamad, driving a Honda Civic, came third 58.401 seconds behind. Ahmed Kuzbar, driving a Ford Focus 2.0, was fourth but trailed by an entire lap.
The Class B race win was claimed by Al Othman, driving a Honda CRX, in 21mins 23.434secs. Rashid Al Jowder was second Driving his Honda Civic, he completed the race 0.812secs behind Al Othman. Third went to Raed Himmo, driving a Honda CRX. He finished a lap behind the leading pair.
In race two, Shaikh Hamad made up for his earlier disappointment to take the checkered flag and cap the long season in style with celebrations atop the podium.
Starting from the middle of the field, Shaikh Hamad displayed why he is the new champion by storming to the front at the lights, and leaving everyone else in his tracks.
He won the second 15-lap race in 20mins 55.084secs. It was his ninth win out of 12 races in this year’s championship. His unbelievable streak of eight success victories was snapped with Birkin’s victory earlier in the round, but it was the perfect finish to the season.
Karimi was this time in second place, finishing 14.523secs behind, while Birkin was a distant third, 55.041secs from Shaikh Hamad’s winning mark.
Kuzbar was fourth, 1min 27.631secs back.
In Class B, Al Othman emerged victorious in 22mins 15.160secs. Himmo was second 36.511secs behind, while Al Jowder did not make the final classification.
With the tight battles in their division, the new champion will be announced soon by organisers, following their official calculation of points. All three drivers headed into the final round with a chance to win their crown.
Also as part of yesterday’s ‘National Racing Finals’, plenty of entertainment for the whole family was on hand at Bahrain International Circuit.
Apart from this, those in attendance were able to sign a book pledging their loyalty, love and belonging to the Kingdom of Bahrain and to the country’s leadership. The book was similar to the ones launched recently in many areas across the island by the General Organisation for Youth and Sports.
Members of the public also signed another book, created by a group of local motorsport fans, supporting the quick return of the Formula One Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix to the island.
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