By Sports Reporter/Doha
Defending champion Abdulla al-Khelaifi won both the races of the opening round of the Qatar Touring Car Championship (QTCC) this weekend at Losail International Circuit.
In the first race, the Qatari rider took the lead starting from pole, crossing the checkered flag in a time of 24:32.701 in his new Honda S2000 car.
Newcomer drivers Ahmed al-Asiri in a Honda Civic and Hamad al-Sulaiti, driving a Toyota GT86, finished second and third respectively.
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, with a reverse grid in race two, it took only three laps for al-Khelaifi to regain the lead and race to yet another victory.
Mohamed al-Khaiat finished second in a Toyota GT86. Al-Asiri completed the podium.
“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,” al-Khelaifi said after the first race.
“Race 2 was a bit difficult after the crash and the re-start of the race but I managed to overtake Mohamed al-Khaiat who was leading the race by the fourth lap. Towards the end of the race, I tried to relax but it was not a good idea as immediately Mohamed caught me and I had a difficult time to build the gap again but finally I got the victory again.”
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 percent 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,” he said.
Newcomer al-Sulaiti was very happy with his first podium of the season. “This is great and I am very happy with my result. First time racing in the championship and getting third place is amazing for me. Hope I can stay like this and be back in the podium,” he said.
Another newcomer, al-Khaiat, too was happy with his podium finish in the second place. “Overall I am very happy, being my first time in this championship. In the first race I had some problems and finished sixth but in the second race, it was a very good beginning for me because I started in front and kept the first position for some laps. Hopefully for the next round we will be readier and try to take some weight off of the car and be faster on the track,” al-Khaiat said.
Trophies were presented by Losail Circuit Sports Club (LCSC) vice-president and general manager Khalid al-Remaihi and LCSC CEO Juan Baquero.
The next round of Qatar Touring Car Championship will be held on December 14-15, 2018.
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