Defending Qatar Touring Car Championship, Qatar’s Abdulla Al Khelaifi won both races of the opening round of QTCC this weekend at Losail International Circuit.
In the first race, Al Khelafi who took the lead starting from pole position, crossed the checkered flag with a total time of 24:32.701 with his new championship’s car, Honda S2000.
Newcomer drivers Ahmed Al Asiri with a Honda Civic and Hamad Al Sulaiti driving a Toyota GT86 came second and third respectively.
‘At the beginning of the three laps, Al Asiri was pushing very hard and I tried to get rid of him because as long as he caught me in the straight I am done, so I had to build a big gap. I managed to do that by the fifth lap and by that time Al Asiri pace came down so I was in the safe zone and managed to secure the win’ said Al Khelaifi.
For Al Asiri, it was a great first race ‘The race was good for me being my first time racing here. I had to push 120% behind the champion and it was very hard. I tried to push in the first three laps, as hard as I can but I couldn’t reach him, I was closer in one section but then he went away, so I decided to take it easy and secure the second place’ commented Al Asiri.
Newcomer driver Al Sulaiti was very happy with his first podium of the season ‘This is great, I am very happy with my result, first time racing in the championship and getting the third place is amazing for me. Hope I can stay like this and be back in the podium’ said Al Sulaiti.
The second race had to be re-started due to a red flag in the first lap as drivers Ibrahim Al Mannai and Nasser Al Ahbabi crashed in turn 7 and their cars got stuck in the gravel.
After the green flag and the reverse grid in race two, it took only three laps to Al Khelaifi to take again the lead and another victory, this time in front of Mohammad Al Khaiat who came second in the podium driving a Toyota GT86. Ahmed Al Asiri completed the final podium.
‘Race 2 was a bit difficult after the crash and the re-start of the race but I managed to overtake Mohamad Al Khaiat who was leading the race by the fourth lap. Al Khaiat kept the pressure on me really hard, he is a really good driver and I didn’t expect him to be so good in the first race. At the end of the race I tried to relax but it was not a good idea as immediately Mohamad caught on me and I had difficult time to build the gap again but finally I got the victory again’ said the double winner of the round.
Another newcomer into this championship, Mohamad Al Khaiat, who got the second place in the second race, was happy with the results of this weekend ‘Overall I am very happy, being my first time in this championship and my car did it very well and didn’t face any mechanical failure with the car. In the first race I had some problems and finished in sixth place but in the second race, it was a very good beginning for me because I started in front and kept the first position during some laps but other cars are more powerful and Abdullah passed me and took the lead. Hopefully for the next round we will be readier and try to take some weight off from the car and be faster on the track’ said Al Khaiat.
For Al Asiri, the reverse grid was something new for him but this didn’t prevent him to be on the podium again.
‘It was also my first time to start a race with the reverse grid. It was easier for me in first race, starting from second place because passing other drivers is especially tough and Abdulla, the champion is really good and he passed easily. I tried to follow him but the others keep blocking so I passed them one by one and do my way up until I got the third place but Abdullah and Mohammed were far away and I couldn’t get catch up to them so I kept the third place until the end’ commented Al Asiri.
Trophies were presented by Mr. Khalid Al Remaihi, LCSC Vice President and General Manager and Mr. Juan Baquero, LCSC CEO.
The next round of Qatar Touring Car Championship will be held on 14th& 15thDecember 2018.