Bahrain: Speed Weekend comes to a spectacular close after two days of thrills at BIC
Bahrain Intl’l Circuit, January 7, 2012-VIVA Racing Team bagged a superb double yesterday (Saturday, January 07, 2012) as Speed Weekend wrapped up in thrilling fashion at Bahrain International Circuit in Sakhir.
VIVA’s Raed Raffii and Tarek Elgammal shared the honours with a win apiece in round three of the 2011/2012 WGA Supercars Middle East Championship. They were among six different drivers to stand atop the podium on a hugely exciting day at ‘The Home of Motorsport in theMiddle East’, as three of the region’s very best racing championships put on a brilliant show.
Stephen Kellogg and Shaikh Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa followed suit with a win each in round five of the BIC 2,000cc Challenge; while Joe Ghanem and Fahad Al Gosaibi did the same for round two of the Maserati Trofeo JBF RAK Middle East Series.
On the sidelines of yesterday’s events, Shaikh Salman bin Isa Al Khalifa, Chief Executive at Bahrain International Circuit, presented a special token of appreciation to Maserati officials. The all-new factory-backed championship opened its historic debut season with two rounds in Sakhir.
Event organisers also thanked tyre giants Pirelli, in particular Pirelli Commercial Director Ra’ad Haddad, for their role as suppliers of both the WGA Supercars and Maserati series.
RAFFII AND ELGAMMAL LIFT VIVA TO A FINE DOUBLE IN WGA SUPERCARS CHAMPIONSHIP
VIVA Racing Team enjoyed a rare double in the WGA Supercars’ third round yesterday, which was the highlight of Speed Weekend.
Ramez Azzam from Teams’ Championship leaders Batelco had originally clinched the chequered flag for an eventful race one. But due to a 10-second penalty for a pair of incidents with Tarek Elgammal and later Faisal Raffii, Azzam was demoted to fourth and runner-up Raed Raffii claimed the win.
The 14-lap sprint was one of the most exciting so far this season. Azzam had battled back after dropping all the way to seventh early on, despite starting from second on the grid beside pole man Faisal Raffii of Alba Racing Team.
Faisal started things off defending his lead well from a strong challenging VIVA pair. Then, on lap seven, Azzam managed to get the better of Elgammal but unfortunately had his first result-altering incident. Over the final few laps, Azzam was engaged in a heated battle with Raffii cousins Faisal and Raed, and the trio constantly exchanged positions. At one point, Azzam clipped Faisal from the back allowing Raed through to the front, which was later adjudged to be his second race error.
Azzam later captured the lead heading into turn one on lap 10, and from there it was a clear path to the chequered flag in 22 minutes 43.309 seconds. Azzam finished the race just in time as he had a puncture on the final turn that resulted in his tyre bursting as he crossed the end line.
His win, however, was taken away from him later on, following a decision on the penalty from race stewards. That allowed the three behind him to take the podium slots – with Raed originally finishing 2.195 seconds behind, Faisal 4.128s back and Elgammal 4.173s from first.
The second race’s results were more clear-cut. Elgammal powered on to victory after gaining the lead at turn three of the very first lap. At that point, Batelco’s French ace Alban Varuttii was caught in a tussle with Alba’s Faisal Raffii, one that resulted in a damaged front wheel for Varuttii which eventually forced him out.
Elgammal sailed to the win in 22:41.920, followed 3.426s behind by Batelco’s Mohammed Mattar. Speeding Saddles driver Abdulaziz Al Yaeesh was 3.869s back, rounding out the podium placers.
“This is absolutely fantastic!” Elgammal exclaimed as VIVA claimed their first wins of the championship since the season-opener. “Our team really deserves this after all the hard work we’ve put in.
“Hopefully this is a turning point for us in the championship. We’re now looking forward to better things in the upcoming rounds.”
VIVA team manager Jamal Al Sayed added: “It’s great to have both guys get a win. I believe we’re back in the fight for the title now and hopefully we can continue to close the gap from the leaders.”
Alba’s Mustafa Al Khan was fourth and Raed fifth. Pole-sitter Faisal was 10th as he was hampered greatly by the damage to his own car from his incident with Varuttii.
KELLOGG AND SHAIKH HAMAD BOTH VICTORIOUS IN BIC 2,000CC CHALLENGE
Stephen Kellogg continued his steady march towards the BIC 2,000cc title, but his streak of consecutive victories was abruptly ended at eight by defending champion Shaikh Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa.
Kellogg won yesterday’s first race of round five in comfortable fashion, but then had to settle for the runner-up spot in race two behind Shaikh Hamad.
“It hasn’t been a perfect weekend, but everything is going well and I’ve extended my lead in the championship,” Kellogg said. “Race one was a really good pole-to-flag victory, but in race two, Shaikh Hamad drove well. I’m not in it to finish races second; we want to win each event, all the way until the end.”
Kellogg won race one with a time of 17:21.742. Chief title rival Tim Birkin claimed the runner-up spot despite a rough start and finished just 1.620s behind. Raed Himmo was third 1.964s back, while Shaikh Hamad claimed fourth in his first race since the season’s first round.
Race two, which featured a reverse grid, then saw Shaikh Hamad take an early lead and Kellogg fight his way from the back to forge an enticing duel. The pair switched positions momentarily, but in the end, Shaikh Hamad did enough to claim the win in 17:11.713. Kellogg was 0.807s behind, and Birkin 2.337s back.
GHANEM AND AL GOSAIBI PICK UP MASERATI TROFEO VICTORIES
In race one of round two in the Maserati Trofeo JBF RAK Middle East Series,Lebanon’s Joe Ghanem managed to outduel Saudi pole man Fahad Al Gosaibi and win in 31:42.787.
Al Gosaibi was beaten by a mere 0.189s, but it was still a great championship debut for the youngster. Patrick Zamparini of Italy finished third 13.278s behind.
Al Gosaibi then fought back and captured first place for race two. He won in 31:42.454, with Ghanem this time in second 1.625s back. Zamparini was again third, 12.172s behind.
WGA SUPERCARS MIDDLE EAST CHAMPIONSHIP RACE ONE CLASSIFICATION (14 laps, *denotes SC06 class): 1 Ramez Azzam 22:43.309 (Later given 10-second penalty); 2 Raed Raffii +2.195s; 3 Faisal Raffii +4.128s; 4 Tarek Elgammal +4.173s; 5 Abdulaziz Al Yaeesh +10.793s; 6 Ahmed Al Kuwari +31.574s; 7 Nasser Al Alawi* +1:05.010; 8 Talal Al Gaith* +1:06.006; 9 Alban Varuttii +2 laps; 10 Mohammed Mattar +3 laps; 11 Essa Al Kooheji +5 laps; 12 Mustafa Al Khan +12 laps. Fastest lap: SC09, Ramez Azzam 1:35.840; SC06, Talal Al Gaith 1:40.381.
WGA SUPERCARS MIDDLE EAST CHAMPIONSHIP RACE TWO CLASSIFICATION (14 laps, *denotes SC06 class): 1 Tarek Elgammal 22:41.920; 2 Mohammed Mattar +3.426s; 3 Abdulaziz Al Yaeesh +3.869s; 4 Mustafa Al Khan +5.117s; 5 Raed Raffii +5.206s; 6 Essa Al Kooheji +13.868s; 7 Ahmed Al Kuwari +24.432s; 8 Talal Al Gaith* +57.279s; 9 Nasser Al Alawi* +1:01.952; 10 Faisal Raffii +3 laps; 11 Alban Varuttii; 12 Ramez Azzam. Fastest lap: SC09, Mohammed Mattar 1:36.057; SC06 Talal Al Gaith 1:40.359.
BIC 2,000CC CHALLENGE RACE ONE CLASSIFICATION (10 laps): 1 Stephen Kellogg 17:21.742; 2 Tim Birkin +1.620s; 3 Raed Himmo +1.964s; 4 Shaikh Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa +16.675s; 5 Alex Longden +22.543s; 6 Abdulrahman Ghuloom +24.183s; 7 Ahmed Kuzbar +1:03.369. Not classified: Abdulla Al Jowder, Hussain Karimi and Salah Salahuddin. Fastest lap: Tim Birkin, 1:41.311.
BIC 2,000CC CHALLENGE RACE TWO CLASSIFICATION (10 laps): 1 Shaikh Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa 17:11.713; 2 Stephen Kellogg +0.807s; 3 Tim Birkin +2.337s; 4 Raed Himmo +11.479s; 5 Abdulrahman Ghuloom +23.896s; 6 Alex Longden +39.926s; 7 Ahmed Kuzbar +3 laps. Not Classfieid: Salah Salahuddin. Fastest lap: Stephen Kellogg, 1:41.701.
MASERATI TROFEO JBF RAK MIDDLE EAST SERIES RACE ONE CLASSIFICATION (21 laps): 1 Joe Ghanem 31:42.787; 2 Fahad Al Gosaibi +0.189s; 3 Patrick Zamparini +13.278s; 4 Justino de Azcarate Riiveroll +25.127s; 5 Faisal Shaker +43.221s; 6 Khalid Al Mudhaf +47.793s; 7 Mohammed Jawa +51.386s; 8 Osama Shaker +1:03.208; 9 Tani Hanna +1:29.713; 10 Guenther Forster +1 lap; 11 Carlo Romani +1 lap; 12 Ziad Ghandour +18 laps. Fastest lap: Fahad Al Gosaibi 1:29.688.
MASERATI TROFEO JBF RAK MIDDLE EAST SERIES RACE TWO CLASSIFICATION (21 laps): 1 Fahad Al Gosaibi 31:42.454; 2 Joe Ghanem +1.625s; 3 Patrick Zamparini +12.172s; 4 Justino de Azcarate Riiveroll +26.516s; 5 Faisal Shaker +28.172s; 6 Giorgio Manuzzi +47.177s; 7 Ziad Ghandour +47.354s; 8 Khalid Al Mudhaf +54.072; 9 Mohammed Jawa +1:08.352; 10 Guenther Forster +1:27.989; 11 Tani Hanna +1 lap; 12 Osama Shaker +2 laps. Fastest lap: Fahad Al Gosaibi 1:29.127.