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Another hefty dose of nail-biting action at the Bahrain International Circuit in Sakhir has set up a tantalising finale across the Formula One weekend later this month with numerous championships going down to the wire.
Seven different winners rose to the occasion in an electrifying and extra-special edition of National Race Day. Leading the pack were JB Simmenauer, Shaikh Hamad bin Isa bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa, Ahmed Almuyini and Abdul Samee Syed, each of whom enjoyed a double in their respective championships.
JB Simmenauer won two of the three races in the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East, while Shaikh Hamad claimed an impressive double in the BIC 2,000cc Challenge. Almuyini and Syed followed suit in the Bahrain Motorcycle Racing (BMR 600) and the Bahrain Supersport Championship (BSSP) 125.
Others claiming a win apiece were Berkay Besler in the Porsche GT3 Cup, and Hasan Al Awadhi and Masoud Behbehani in the Bahrain Superbike Championship (BSBK).
Action in the Porsche GT3 Cup and the BIC 2,000cc Challenge was held along BIC’s 5.412-kilometre Grand Prix Track, while racing in the BMR 600, BSBK and the BSSP 125 was held down the circuit’s 2.55-kilometre Inner Track.
In the Porsche GT3 Cup, Simmenauer from France claimed the first chequered flag of the meeting after completing the series’ opening 14-lap sprint in 29 minutes 11.488 seconds. He finished ahead of the Omani duo of Al Faisal Al Zubair and Khalid Al Wahaibi. Al Zubair was 3.774 seconds behind and Al Wahaibi 9.893s back. All three were also the top finishers in the Pro Class.
In the ProAm, Saul Hack from South Africa was the winner ahead of Bahrain’s HH Shaikh Isa bin Abdulla Al Khalifa, who should have claimed the class victory but was given a five-second time penalty for a jump start. Magnus Oehman from Sweden was third.
In the Am category, Thomas Karlsson, also from Sweden, won ahead of countryman Michael Knutzon and Bahraini Shaikh Jaber bin Ali Al Khalifa.
In race two, Besler from Turkey managed to clinch a narrow victory over Simmenauer. Besler won in 29m 10.817s. Only 0.261s separated the pair in the end, with German Leon Koehler finishing in third place overall.
Besler and Simmenauer were joined on the Pro podium by Al Zubair. Koehler was the victor in the ProAm class, finishing ahead of Hack and His Highness Shaikh Isa bin Abdulla.
In the Am category, it was Karlsson, Shaikh Jaber bin Ali and Michael Sauer on the podium.
In the third and final Porsche GT3 Cup race of the weekend, Simmenauer took the chequered flag in 29m 13.471s, just 0.478s ahead of Besler, while Al Zubair remained consistent with his second overall podium appearance of the round. All three also the podium placers for the Pro class.
The ProAm was claimed by Hack, with HH Shaikh Isa bin Abdulla in second and Oehman in third. In the Am category, it was Karlsson, Knutzon and Shaikh Jaber bin Ali in the top three.
Meanwhile, in the BIC 2,000cc Challenge, former champion Shaikh Hamad took the first race’s chequered flag after completing the six-lap sprint in 14m 53.624s.
Driving a Honda Civic, Shaikh Hamad was a comfortable 12.032s ahead of runner-up and defending champion Raed Himmo, who was also behind the wheel of a Civic. Tareq Al Tajer in a Ford Focus claimed third 13.080s back, as he closed the gap between himself and championship leader Ahmed bin Khanen, who did not take part in the round. Aside from finishing as the top three overall, they also completed the Pro class podium.
Martyna Al Qassab in an Acura DC5 won the Novice class. She was joined in the class’ top three by Majed Himmo in a Civic and Ramzi Al Qassab, also in an Acura DC5.
Another ex-champion, Shaikh Salman bin Isa bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa, did well to start race one as the pole-sitter, but he was forced to retire from the race with one lap remaining.
In race two, it was a similar trio on the overall podium, but this time Shaikh Hamad beat Al Tajer to the win and it was Majed Himmo who placed third. Shaikh Hamad won in 15m 01.731s – 11.749s in front of Al Tajer. Majed Himmo took third place overall 20.946s from Shaikh Hamad.
Shaikh Salman managed to clinch third place in the Pro class, while classified behind Majed Himmo on the Novice rankings were Giovanni Salerno and Martyna.
In the BMR 600, Almuyini won race one ahead of Ibrahem Alsharida and Al Awadhi. In race two, Almuyini completed his double ahead of the same duo of Alsharida and Al Awadhi.
Al Awadhi added to his BMR success with a triumph in the opening sprint of the BSBK. Al Awadhi claimed his race ahead of Behbehani and Simranjeet Singh. In the second event, it was Behbehani who claimed the win, followed by Simranjeet Singh and Bhumik Lalwani.
In the BSSP 125, the trio of Syed, Saleh Al Kandari and Shaun were first through third, respectively, in both races.
Following all the action, the winners of all the races were presented their trophies by officials from BIC, the Bahrain Motor Federation, the Circuit Racing Club and the Bahrain Motorcycle Club.