QMMF announces new-look QSTK Championship
05 Nov 2017 - 12:32
By Rizwan Rehmat / The Peninsula
The Qatar SuperStock 600 Championship (QSTK) will have races in two separate classes in the 2017-18 season, it was announced at Losail International Circuit (LIC).
Last year, popular rider Saeed Al Sulaiti clinched the SuperStock 600 title ahead of compatriot and arch-rival Mashel Al Naimi by just 5 points.
However, in an effort to create a level playing field for those challenging Al Sulaiti and Al Naimi, the Qatar Motor and Motorcycling Federation (QMMF) have decided to make two classes of racing especially for those starting out in bike racing.
The new class - the QSTK Trophy - will be contested with 600cc bikes.
“We will have races in two categories in the new racing season,” QMMF President Abdulrehman Al Mannai said yesterday at LIC.
“As you know, Saeed and Mashel were very fast last season. Keeping that in mind we don’t want to discourage the other young riders competing against them,” Al Mannai added.
“So we decided to create a different category based on lap-time. Anybody who could get to 2 minutes and 9 seconds or lower will be with these guys (Al Sulaiti and Al Naimi). But anybody who has a longer lap time will be in the new category (the 600cc class),” the QMMF President explained.
“The new category will have its own podium and prizes. This way we can balance the championship between young riders and the experienced ones. We are hoping that the championship will be at two levels,” he said.
“Last season was our first attempt with a new championship set-up. We had one bike, one engine, one chassis and we wanted to make the competition equal for every rider.
“That brought a lot of excitement to the championship. As you saw Saeed and Mashel produced very exciting battles. This year we expect the championship to be just as exciting. We cannot wait for the start of the 2017-18 Championship and this is the perfect venue for it,” Al Mannai said.
Losail Circuit Sports Club (LCSC) Vice-Chairman and Secretary-General Khalid Al Remaihi said: “The major objective we have been working on is to get a quality set of riders. This year we want to build on the success of the championship staged last season.”
He added: “We had fun on track and in the stands throughout the season. That was our drive and we did it. The QMMF President has shed light on the second new class that we are introducing. It will be a class for the beginners.”
Al Remaihi said high quality of racing last season made the championship a battle between two top riders - Al Sulaiti and Al Naimi. He also said that QMMF’s training programme to groom youngsters was making an profound impact on new riders.
“Last year the competition level was very high. But then we got to see that the newcomers improved dramatically last season. That is partly because QMMF have developed a training programme that is parallel to the championship,” Al Remaihi added.
“We are bringing everybody to a higher level. We believe these guys can deliver and rest of their colleagues will be in the same level in the new season,” he added.
“This is a championship for everybody but of course our aim is to support home-grown riders,” Al Remaihi explained.
The QMMF President, in a quick response, said: “I think LCSC have done a fantastic job hosting the final round of the WorldSBK Championship. They have stitched together added attractions for this week. The organisation is amazing.”
When asked about his performance last season, Al Sulaiti said: “First of all, I want to say ‘Thank you’ to Mashel. We both were consistently improving last season. We managed lap times we did not expect on a stock bike. We had a clean competition and it was very close.”
Al Sulaiti, who featured in the SuperSport class in the final round of the WorldSBK on Friday, said: “To be honest, I had a smooth ride. I had decided that I would give it all. I was surprised to see myself do so well. I want to thank my team for the way they set up the bike to suit my riding style. We did it. Hopefully we can do well in the coming days and weeks.”
Al Naimi, the runner-up in the Qatar SuperStock 600 Championship, said: “I would like to thank my team who work very hard for me. Every time I do well, it is because of the support I have. I enjoyed myself in the SuperSport qualifying (on Friday). I am happy when I am on my bike. I hope we can do better. I feel I can be better as I used just one tyre. I want to thank the QMMF and the LCSC for their support.”