Bahrain: Al Kooheji crowned first ever BMR600 series Champion and retires from competition in style
May 1st 2015 -BIC, Sakhir – Hussain Al Kooheji was crowned as the first-ever champion of the BMR 600 motorbike series on Friday at a floodlit Bahrain International Circuit (BIC) in Sakhir.
Al Kooheji clinched the title after an impressive double in the season’s sixth and final round, held as part of National Race Day at “The Home of Motorsport in the Middle East”.
Also as part of the evening’s events, the BIC 2,000cc Challenge staged its championship finale. Hussain Karimi and Alex Longden won a race apiece.
In the, BMR 600 Al Kooheji headed into the meeting as the heavy favourite to secure the crown, and he did not disappoint. “I am very happy to have won this series,” Al Kooheji said. “This is my first time winning in Bahrain and it’s really fantastic!”
Following his victory, the veteran Bahraini rider surprised his peers by announcing his retirement from competitive racing. “I am announcing my retirement,” he revealed. “This is my final championship. I participated in this series because it is in my home country. This was a first in Bahrain and I wanted to be a part of it.
“Now, as for racing, this is it. I am happy with my five titles, four of them being from championships in the UAE, and this is the last one.”
The BMR 600 is a one-make series featuring identical Honda Hornet motorbikes. The 2014/2015 campaign was its maiden year out on track at BIC. It was organised by BIC in cooperation with the Circuit Racing Club, the Bahrain Motor Federation and Motorsport Marshalls of Bahrain.
Al Kooheji captured the fifth championship of his career with his two wins. He almost registered a picture perfect season, wining 11 of the calendar’s 12 races.
Al Kooheji was batting the flu all week heading into the season finale and was not in the best shape as he suited up for the last two races of the year.
After qualifying in second, Al Kooheji managed to gain the lead early in the evening’s first 11-lap sprint. He masterfully staved off a hard challenge from top title rival Faisal Ali, taking the chequered flag in a total race time of 11mins 22.894secs – which was a mere 0.261secs ahead of Ali.
Finishing thid was Saleh Alkandari 1.063secs behind. Chris Rabie (+22.787secs) was fourth and Tim Attwood (+23.846secs) fifth. Harry Johnston (+24.402secs) rounded out the top six while of the 10-rider field.
Race two was another tight battle between Al Kooheji and Ali, with the victor securing his double 0.272secs ahead of his opponent. Alkandari was again third 3.913secs behind.
Fourth through sixth, respectively, were Rabie (+15.591secs), Attwood (+18.341secs) and Frank Mobitz (22.360secs).
With the title already decided in the BIC 2,000cc Challenge, champion Shaikh Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa did not participate in the season’s last round, leaving an opportunity for others to rise onto the podium.
Karimi and Longden took full advantage, each earning a strong finish to end their seasons.
Karimi won the 15-lap first race in 22mins 38.934secs in his Honda CRX. Tim Birkin in a Honda Integra finished as the runner-up 6.626secs behind, and Longden in his BMW 3 Series third 6.867secs back. Abdulaziz Ashkanani in a Honda S2,000 was fourth and Mohammed Faqihi in a Honda CIVIC was not classified.
In race two, the battle had dwindled down to just two drivers. Longden was quicker than Birkin by just 1.507secs.