Motoring Weekly

The podium queen

October 14 - 20, 2020

Gulf Weekly Mai Al Khatib-Camille
By Mai Al Khatib-Camille

Gulf Weekly The podium queen

Race ace Martyna Al-Qassab is back in the hot seat as she aims to steer her way to another podium success in the second round of Bahrain International Circuit’s (BIC) 2020/2021 2,000cc Challenge being staged this weekend in Sakhir.

The Polish expatriate has been shattering motorsport stereotypes with Team Marte Racing for five years and has started this season in sizzling form.

“As soon as we learned about the new season, we dusted off our cars from storage and got new tyres,” said Al-Qassab. Her husband Ramzi is also racing this season alongside her.

“Team Marte Racing’s technical support, led by racing legend Abdul Rahman Ghuloom and his team at CoCo car care, did an awesome job for us in such a quick turnaround. The first round was excellent.

“We both ended the first weekend with our fastest lap times ever, which considering the weather and track conditions, was quite an achievement.

“I took second place in Race 1 and third in Race 2 in the Novice category. Let it be noted that with the temperature and humidity, I lost around two kilos while at the track so hydration and health plays factor in performance.

“This season we are digging deeper on using data from our cars ECU and sector timing from BIC’s track to help us optimise and accelerate our progress.

“My husband and I are both committed to compete in all 14 races over the seven rounds, which end in April, and are already gearing up for the second round on Friday.

“The 2000cc BIC Championship is the longest regional motorsport championship across the Middle East and it is testament to Bahrain that despite the current challenges, the season started with 17 registered drivers and cars.”

When Al-Qassab joined the championship in 2015, she was the only female to race. She also became the first female to take the number one podium championship spot in the Novice category in 2018.

Al-Qassab, who competes in a blue Acrua DC5 RSX with a 2litre vTEC K20 engine, said: “I have achieved great wins so far but most importantly I am continuously challenging myself to get better. The need to compete is part of my DNA so this sport is prefect and the facilities available in Bahrain are truly unique.”

She is delighted that last year, Wiebke Buelow, another female driver, won the same title she did and is competing this season as well.

Al-Qassab, founder of Yalla Banat, a forum aimed at inspiring more females in motorsport, is pleased to see more becoming interested and is currently working on establishing Women in Motorsport Bahrain (WIM).

In the meantime, the mother-of-two applauds the organisers, the BIC, the Bahrain Motor Federation (BMF) and Circuit Racing Club (CRC), for their ‘excellence in executing’ the series.

 “It is truly exhilarating to race again,” added the Motorsports Marshal Club Bahrain part-time race control marshal. “We were extremely excited and equally curious as to how it would be executed considering these unprecedented times.

“After reviewing the impeccable safety and social distancing precautions set out by BIC, BMF and CRC, we are over the moon that the races started again. This is, of course, with minimal admission to the BIC for only essential people, drivers’ crew and event organisers.

“It is a strange experience to not have crowds but it is an decision we support.”

To limit face-to-face interactions, the CRC established a virtual driver briefing and BMF digital platform.

One race weekend she is particularly looking forward to will be in November. She said: “The CRC and BMF have announced that we may have our November race weekend during the same FIA 8 hour World Endurance Championship that is due to take place in Bahrain on November 13 to 15.

“I was actually looking forward to supporting Bahrain as a marshal for this international race event but this time round I will have to be a driver instead, so it’s not a bad choice to have to make!”

Al-Qassab urges people to watch the race action on Friday @teammarteracing on Instagram and YouTube.

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