BIC, Sakhir – Race fans enjoyed a thrilling finale to Speed Weekend on Saturday at Bahrain International Circuit (BIC) in Sakhir, where Batelco drivers Alban Varuttii and Mohammed Mattar each came away triumphant in an eventful fifth round of the WGA Supercars Middle East Championship.
Speed Weekend was organised by BIC, “The Home of Motorsport in the Middle East”, in cooperation with the Bahrain Motor Federation and Lechner Racing, who are organisers and promoters of the Porsche GT3 Cup.
Batelco had ample reason to celebrate Saturday as the penultimate round of the 2011/2012 season took BIC’s 5.412-kilometre track by storm. Varuttii led three Batelco drivers onto the podium for race one while extending his lead in the SC09 Drivers’ Championship standings with his fifth victory of the year.
Varuttii had an exciting head-to-head battle with teammate and pole-sitter Ramez Azzam for the lead midway through the race, and after a couple of exchanges between them, eventually came away with the advantage. He did enough to keep Azzam at bay and claim the win with a time of 21 minutes 45.752 seconds. Azzam was a mere 0.781 seconds behind as the race’s runner-up and Mattar completed Batelco’s clean sweep of the podium with third place 2.088s back.
“It’s a great result for Batelco to have all of us finish on the podium,” said Varuttii. “I had a nice start to race one and it was a fair fight with my teammate Ramez. We were the quickest on the track and we deserve to get this victory.”
Faisal Raffii of Alba Racing Team finished fourth and his cousin Raed of VIVA Racing Team claimed fifth in the Supercars’ elite SC09 category.
In race two, Mattar took advantage of a couple of incidents involving the race’s leading drivers to capture the lead on lap four and then stave off some heated challenges to celebrate his first win of the championship. He triumphed in a total time of 21:51.997, just 0.668s ahead of second-placer Faisal Raffii of Alba Racing Team.
Azzam was again the pole man but he lost his advantage early on to Raed Raffii, who eventually finished third 2.946s from Mattar.
Raffii and Varuttii got involved in an early incident that resulted in the Batelco man spinning off the track and dropping all the way to the back of the field. Still, Varuttii managed to battle back all the way to fourth place with a stunning drive. Azzam, on the other hand, was unlucky as his car stopped suddenly and he did not finish.
“It feels really good to finally get my first win,” Mattar said. “The team has done a great job, and this result is because of them.”
Batelco team manager Osama Al Saad added: “It’s been a good round but it would have been better if we could have had all our guys on the podium again for the second race.
“It’s great to get the points on the Teams’ and Drivers’ Championship standings; we’re aiming to win both at season’s end and we’ll see where it goes. I believe we now have a good lead heading into the last round where we hope to be at our best.”
Championship debutant Mohammed Al Baharna of Speeding Saddles Team rounded out the race’s top five.
In the SC06 class, Al Alawi was once again the winner ahead of Marriot and Al Buflasa.
The WGA Supercars are being sponsored by Bahrain-based asset management company Western Gulf Advisory (WGA) and supported by tyre giants Pirelli. The sixth and final meeting of this year’s WGA Supercars Middle East Championship takes place in support of the 2012 Formula One Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix from April 20 to 22 at BIC.
WGA SUPERCARS MIDDLE EAST CHAMPIONSHIP RACE ONE CLASSIFICATION: SC09 Class, 1 Alban Varuttii 21:45.752; 2 Ramez Azzam +0.781s; 3 Mohammed Mattar +2.088s; 4 Faisal Raffii +4.870s; 5 Raed Raffii +7.779s; 6 Talal Al Gaith +14.531s; 7 Mustafa Al Khan +25.797s; 8 Tarek Elgammal +26.525s; 9 Mohammed Al Baharna +30.591s. SC06 Class, 1 Nasser Al Alawi 22:33.910; 2 Christophe Marriot +0.016s; 3 Osama Al Buflasa +8.399s.
WGA SUPERCARS MIDDLE EAST CHAMPIONSHIP RACE TWO CLASSIFICATION: SC09, 1 Mohammed Mattar 21:51.997, 2 Faisal Raffii +0.668s, 3 Raed Raffii +2.946s, 4 Alban Varuttii +9.700s, 5 Mohammed Al Baharna +23.261s, 6 Talal Al Gaith +28.800s, 7 Tarek Elgammal +47.808s, 8 Fahad Al Musalam +1:53.907, DNF: Ramez Azzam and Mustafa Al Khan; SC06, 1 Nasser Al Alawi 22:35.873, 2 Christophe Marriot +2.770s; 3 Osama Al Buflasa +6.655s.
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