BIC: Exciting finale to National Racing Festival with WGA Supercars and 2000cc Challenge
BIC, Sakhir – Alban Varuttii and Stephen Kellogg both had twice the reason to celebrate Saturday after each claimed a superb double in their respective championships held as part of Bahrain International Circuit’s (BIC) National Racing Festival in Sakhir.
Varuttii put in a fine performance for Batelco Racing Team and won both races in round four of the WGA Supercars Championship Middle East.
Kellogg followed suit with twin victories in the sixth and penultimate meeting of the BIC 2,000cc Challenge.
Both drivers shone brightest among a field of star talents who showcased the very best of Bahraini motorsport all weekend along the 2.550-kilometre Inner Track at ‘The Home of Motorsport in theMiddle East’.
VARUTTII EXCELS FOR BATELCO IN WGA SUPERCARS
Alban Varuttii secured a fantastic double on Saturday to cap a near-perfect showing for Batelco Racing Team in the fourth of six rounds in the WGA Supercars Championship. The series is being backed by Bahrain-based asset management company Western Gulf Advisory and tyre giants Pirelli.
After starting both races roaring from second position on row one, Varuttii managed to gain the advantage at different points of each 15-lap sprint. The Frenchman led a Batelco sweep of the podium places in race one, before outpacing a couple of his top rivals for the victory in race two.
His pair of triumphs extended his lead atop the SC09 Drivers’ Championship standings while also helping Batelco widen the gap in the teams’ title race.
“It was a very nice weekend,” Varuttii said. “To get two wins is always great; it means a lot for my team and me. We are now in better position in the championship fight, but we know that racing is not over yet and we never know what can happen over the final two rounds. We will keep pushing.”
In race one, Varuttii only overtook teammate Ramez Azzam on turn six of the last lap, allowing him to clinch the chequered flag in a total race time of 18 minutes 54.940 seconds. Azzam, fromCanada, finished a mere 0.392s behind as runner-up, while Bahraini Mohammed Mattar was 3.753s back, completing Batelco’s clean sweep of positions one through three.
“It was a really exciting race,” said Varuttii. “I had a really bad start, but I knew the car was fast so I just took things lap by lap. After Ramez and I went to the front, he made a small mistake and we touched slightly before I passed him; it was fair and we’re both just really happy for the team to get this fantastic result.”
Azzam commented: “It’s a great one-two-three for Batelco and it shows that all our hard work ahead of this round has paid off.”
Varuttii and Azzam started race one behind VIVA pole-sitter Raed Raffii, but they eventually displayed their superior pace as both powered ahead of their rival midway through. Making things worse for Raffii was Mattar’s crucial pass on the race’s final turn, which cost him a place in the top three. Raffii had to settle for fourth as he was classified 4.052s behind the victor.
Mustafa Al Khan of Alba was fifth 25.562s back, while Abdulaziz Al Yaeesh of Speeding Saddles came sixth 26.090s behind.
In race two, Varuttii took over as leader on the fifth lap when VIVA’s Raffii, again starting from pole, began to experience trouble with his car. Varuttii was eventually untroubled the rest of the way and won in 19:02.298.
Alba’s Faisal Raffii was second after finishing 6.783s back, while Tarek Elgammal of VIVA completed the podium 11.526s adrift.
Al Yaeesh, Alba’s Talal Al Ghaith, and Speeding Saddles driver Ahmed Al Kuwari rounded out the top six. VIVA’s Raffii could not finish the race. He eventually retired after six laps.
“I’m happy to be on the podium but our target was to do better,” Alba’s Faisal Raffii said.
Added Elgammal: “It wasn’t our best weekend but I’m glad to have been able to finish in the top three for the second race. We have a lot to look forward to in the season’s final rounds.”
KELLOGG COMES AWAY WITH YET ANOTHER DOUBLE
Stephen Kellogg won both races in style Saturday in an eventful sixth and penultimate round of the 2011/2012 BIC 2,000cc Challenge.
Starting both races from the back, Kellogg marginally fought his way through the field to claim the chequered flag each time.
“I’m really happy with the way I’ve won today; those were two of the toughest races of the season and to take them both was just really incredible,” said Kellogg, who came away with his fifth double of the season and wins number nine and 10 from a possible 12.
“My team has done a fantastic job keeping the car reliable all season, the car has just been an absolute joy to drive. I’m now looking forward to the last round when I’ll still be looking to win and finish the season on a high note.”
In race one, pole man Shaikh Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa had done well to defend his lead coming off the start, but his strong form early on went to waste as an ignition problem on his Honda CIVIC hatchback forced him to retire from the race on lap six.
Kellogg, meanwhile, gradually made his way to the front, passing both Salah Salahuddin (CIVIC) and then Tim Birkin (Honda Integra) late on, and taking the chequered flag in 20:27.638.
Birkin followed 6.728s behind as runner-up, while Salahuddin was third 16.948s back. Abdulrahman Ghuloom (CIVIC), Alex Longden (BMW 3 Series), Ahmed Kuzbar (Ford Focus 2.0) and Hussain Karimi (Honda CRX) rounded out the classification.
In race two, Kellogg once again gained the lead late. He claimed the win after 15 laps in 20:21.979; 8.058s ahead of Birkin and 8.743s in front of Shaikh Hamad, who did just enough to overcome persisting ignition problems.
WGA SUPERCARS CHAMPIONSHIP ME RACE ONE CLASSIFICATION: 1 Alban Varuttii 18:54.940; 2 Ramez Azzam +0.392s; 3 Mohammed Mattar +3.753s; 4 Raed Raffii +4.052s; 5 Mustafa Al Khan +25.562s; 6 Abdulaziz Al Yaeesh +26.090s; 7 Ahmed Al Kuwari +29.442s; 8 Faisal Raffii 30.529s; 9 Talal Al Ghaith +1:06.399; 10 Nasser Al Alawi +1 lap; 11 Tarek Elgammal +10 laps.
WGA SUPERCARS CHAMPIONSHIP ME RACE TWO CLASSIFICATION: 1 Alban Varuttii 19:02.298; 2 Faisal Raffii +6.783s; 3 Tarek Elgammal +11.526s; 4 Abdulaziz Al Yaeesh +13.072s; 5 Talal Al Ghaith 14.159s; 6 Ahmed Al Kuwari +14.434s; 7Nasser Al Alawi +41.209s; 8 Mustafa Al Khan +2 laps; 9 Raed Raffii +9 laps; 10 Ramez Azzam +11 laps.
BIC 2,000CC CHALLENGE RACE ONE CLASSIFICATION: 1 Stephen Kellogg 20:27.638; 2 Tim Birkin +6.728s; 3 Salah Salahuddin +16.948s; 4 Abdulrahman Ghuloom +26.618s; 5 Alex Longden +35.580s; 6 Ahmed Kuzbar +1 lap; 7 Hussain Karimi +2 laps. Not classified: Shaikh Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, Abdulla Al Jowder.
BIC 2,000CC CHALLENGE RACE TWO CLASSIFICATION: 1 Stephen Kellogg 20:21.979; 2 Tim Birkin +8.058s; 3 Shaikh Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa +8.743s; 4 Salah Salahuddin +12.264s; 5 Abdulrahman Ghuloom +16.407s; 6 Alex Longden +28.405s; 7 Hussain Karimi +42.411s; 8 Ahmed Kuzbar +1 lap.