By Sports Reporter/Doha
It’s been a hectic year for Qatar Motor and Motorcycle Federation (QMMF) but a very successful one too.
The motorsports body organised a whopping 26 events in Qatar in the just-concluded season over a six-month period and have received tremendous response in terms of participation.
The performance of the Qatari drivers was also impressive with the great Nasser al-Attiyah winning every event he participated in – including the Dakar Rally for the third time. At home, the competition was intense too with youngster Abdulla al-Qubaisi narrowly missing out on Qatar Superstock 600 title to experienced rider Saeed al-Sulaiti.
The QMMF also took a huge step forward by sponsoring the Qatari riders to take part in the Spanish championship, while Qatar Touring Car Championship (QTCC) champion Abdullah al-Khelaifi made his TCR Europe debut at Hungaroring at the end of last month.
Finally, the newly launched Qatar Motorsports Academy attracted an overwhelming response with young kids keen to launch their career and learn the ropes of motorsports.
Needless to say, QMMF president Abdulrahman al-Mannai was delighted with how the season unfolded and called it as ‘probably the best season so far’ for the federation. “There are key highlights of the season we thought we should share with everybody,” said al-Mannai after a board meeting.
“We saw an increase of 68 percent of license holders this season, new teams representing the country like Abdulla al-Khelaifi in TCR, the motorcycle team in Spanish championship and others. We saw strong competition in the QSTK with Abdulla and Saeed ending up with same number of points. The academy has been a huge boost for the sport as a whole in the country.
“For the first time the Qatar International Rally was broadcast live on TV. There was an increase in participation of Qataris in international events held in Qatar. There were 13 Qatari entries in cross country rally, that’s a very big number considering in the past seasons we had just two or three entries in addition to Nasser. We also discussed Nasser’s achievement in winning every race he took part, including Dakar,” he added.
Al-Mannai credited the newly constituted QMMF board, of which he is the chairman, for playing a significant role in developing motorsports in the country.
The new board was set up in accordance with the amendments to its statutes made earlier this year and consists of representatives of clubs and sports bodies who hold membership of the QMMF, as well as a representative from the Ministry of Culture and Sports.
“All of this we think we could achieve is because of the new board and also our partnership with companies like Manateq and other governmental agencies that boosted our activities,” Al-Mannai said.
“We ran eight different championships this season, that is 26 events total in a six-month period. That is an average of 4.5 per month. In some months we saw more than five events, local as well as international. Sixty-one cars took part in the last round of the Sprint championship, which is a record. We are very happy about it. All of these was discussed during the board meeting. It’s probably be the best season so far,” the QMMF chief added.
The calendar for the next season was released by QMMF with the fifth round of the Qatar Baja to be held on October 11th and 12th, while the opening round of the QSTK and QTCC will be held on November 15th and 16th.
The international events like MotoGP, World Superbike championship and cross country rally will also return for next season.
“We also have a new calendar for the new season and have released it. We have new regulations for QTTC which is based on competitors and what they want. We had a meeting with them and they voted for the new regulations. We found different ways of connecting to them, keeping the dialogue going. I think that’s also another key success factor in the previous season,” al-Mannai said.
“The bar has gone up now, so we need to keep it there or better it. We are discussing few projects for next season and we are going to announce it soon,” he added.
Al-Mannai also had a word of praise of Qatari riders and driver al-Khelaifi, who are currently in Europe taking part in the different championships.
“Our riders and driver al-Khelaifi are doing well in Europe. For Khelaifi this is his first time in a European championship. On a new circuit and against drivers who have competed in Formula 3 and 4 series before, he has been able to give us good results. We are expecting his level will increase as he gets more comfortable with car, the team and circuits,” the QMMF president said.
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