Qatar Touring Car Championship: Al Khelaifi, Al Kuwari sparkle in opening round

 02 Dec 2017 - 9:31

Qatar Touring Car Championship: Al Khelaifi, Al Kuwari sparkle in opening round
Podium winners of Race 2 in the opening round of the Qatar Touring Car Championship (QTTC), Saadon Al Kuwari (top left), Abdulla Ali Al Khelaifi (top centre) and Adham Maged Eldib pose for a photograph with QMMF President Abdulrehman Al Mannai (third left), Khalid Al Remaihi (second left), the Losail Circuit Sports Club General Manager and Vice-President and event officials at the Losail International Circuit yesterday.

Rizwan Rehmat | The Peninsula

Veteran driver Saadon Al Kuwari last night stormed to a spectacular win in Race 1 but defending champion and arch-rival
Abdulla Ali Al Khelaifi reversed the trend in Race 2 in the opening round of the Qatar Touring Car Championship (QTCC).

Al Kuwari, driving his Toyota GT86, outpaced Al Khelaifi in Race 1 in a time of 24:43.786. Al Kheliafi finished in second spot just 1.154 seconds adrift of the time set by Al Kuwari.

The third place was secured by Adham Maged Eldib, who had a tough battle with Al Kuwari’s son Nasser who finished fourth in his Toyota GT86.

A second generation racing driver, Al Kuwari started Race 1 from the third place on the grid but quickly grabbed the lead after the first lap. 

“I am very happy with the result as it was a very tough race. Abdullah put me pressure from the start to the finish. He is the QTCC champion. He is very young and a very fast driver,” Al Kuwari said yesterday. 

“He was behind me all the time but I beat him with experience only,” the veteran driver added.

“It was an exciting race but I did not have a good start. Saadon was better than me at the start,” Al Khelaifi, who also drove a Toyota GT86, said. 

“I tried to catch him in the straight but I couldn’t take the first position. There was an accident in the middle of the race in the straight and I had a huge oversteer which cost me a lot of time and he built the gap from that. I couldn’t catch him,” Al Khelaifi added.

It was the first career podium for Eldib, who finished third.

“It is a fantastic feeling. It was an amazing yet unexpected race for me. I qualified fourth but I know that on the grid there were so many great drivers. I had a great race specially with Nasser Al Kuwari. We kept on exchanging positions but I kept the pace, pushing on,” Eldib said.

“I am very happy with my first podium in the first race,” Eldib, who drove a Honda EP3, added.

Nasser experienced problems with the alignment of the car and couldn’t fix it on time for the race.

“Hopefully I can make it better for the next round,” Al Kuwari said. 

Pole-winner Ibrahim Al Abdulghani suffered engine problems in the first lap and had to abandon the 10-lap race.

In Race 2, Al Khelaifi sealed his win in a time of 24:33.560, a commanding 7.190-second lead ahead of arch-rival Al Kuwari. Eldib repeated his performance from Race 1 and grabbed the third place 32.934 seconds behind Al Khelaifi.

“I tried to get away from Saadon (in Race 2). I put three of four cars between me and him. Then I got my pace and focused on the race. Then I managed to retain the same gap for most part of the race,” Al Khelaifi said.
“It was really a great contest. I was afraid of Saadon catching up with me that I set the record for this class,” he added.

Al Kuwari said: “I started from the last. Abdulla tried to run away from me. I was close to him. I suffered some damage. He is a good driver. Congratulations to him. I like to see young drivers like him.

In the first race he fought with me and in the second I fought with him. I couldn’t catch him because of the damage to my car.”

Third-placed Eldib said: “Fantastic. I can’t express how happy I am.

It was a reverse grid. I stayed at the back by keeping a conservative approach. Then I passed when there was clean space. I had good battles. I am happy to have two podiums on the same day.”

The trophies were presented by QMMF President Abdulrahman Al Mannai, LCSC General Manager and Vice President Khalid Al Remaihi and QMMF Secretary General Abdulrazak Al Kuwari.