Defending champ al-Sulaiti and al-Khelaifi start new season in style
Qatar Superstock 600 and Qatar Touring Car Championship kicked off yesterday with the qualifying sessions as defending champions Saeed al-Sulaiti and Abdullah al-Khelaifi took pole positions. In Qatar Superstock 600, alSulaiti took the first pole of the season at the Losail International Circuit after clocking fastest time of 2:04.438.
Al-Sulaiti will start the race in the first row, ahead of compatriot Mashel al-Naimi, who posted the second best time of 2:05.296 and Abdullah alQubaisi will start in third position in the grid with a time of 2:05.321. “I am really happy to be in first position in today sessions and get the Superpole. Compared to last week in the official test, I feel much better with the injury in my finger. I didn’t expect to be in front with this lap time. Of course, the race will be difficult tomorrow with 12 laps and I believe there will be a good fight between Abdullah, Mishal and myself so let’s see tomorrow,” said al-Sulaiti.
Although al-Naimi couldn’t fix the problems with the front tyre from last week, he was satisfied with his second position. “Overall I am happy with this result. I managed to find a good set up in the Superpole with the used tyre but still have some problem with the front tyre as it happened last week during the official practice. Tomorrow in the warm up we will try to do something different in the front fork,” said al-Naimi.
In the QSTK Trophy, the fastest rid- er was Jassim al-Thani with a time of 2:09.293 with Kuwaiti rider Mohammed al-Zaidan and Hassan al-Mansoori in second and third place respectively in their category. “For me, the new season is a new beginning. I started with a good timing, I trained very well in the off-season and I am ready to compete for the win. For tomorrow, I will start in a good position and I will try to keep this place and hopefully compete with QSTK riders,” al-Thani said.
In the Qatar Touring Car Champion- ship, the defending champion Abdullah al-Khelaifi driving a new car managed to secure the pole position with a lap time of 2:25.368 secs.
“I am very happy to be back. I have a new car for this championship and after the free practice, I had minor issues that were solved luckily and now I am ready to race. There is still a small set up to be done for tomorrow but even with this, I managed to qualify first. But I have to work hard as the newcomers are very strong. They are here to win, so it will be a really tough race,” said alKhelaifi.
A total of 12 cars took part in the first round and the new drivers proved to be very strong. Ahmed Alasiri finished second with a lap time of 2:26.548, while Nasser al-Ahbabi ended in third place with a time of 2:28.066.
For Alasiri, this is his first time in the championship and was pleased with his debut. “The competition is fierce. Even though I qualified second, the other drivers were very close so it will be very hard tomorrow but fun as well. This is my first time in a championship and first time with this car as I didn’t take part in the official practice last week, so I am very happy with today’s result and looking forward for tomorrow’s race,” said Alasiri.
Another debutant al-Ahbabi was also happy with his day’s work. “This is my first time in this championship and I am so excited. I am very happy to qualify in third place and for tomorrow, I will work with some set up in my tyres and steering and hopefully I can fight for the podium,” said al-Ahbabi.
Today, QSTK Race 1 starts at 11:30 and Race 2 at 14:30. The QTCC first race is scheduled at 13:00 and the second at 16:00. Qatar Superstock 600 and Qatar Touring Car Championship are organised by Losail Circuit Sports Club and Qatar Motor and Motorcycle Federation with Pirelli Qatar as sponsor.
Abdullah al-Khelaifi and Saeed al-Sulaiti (right) in action at the Losail International Circuit yesterday.