Shaikh Salman bin Isa bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa clinched a superb double in round four of the 2018/2019 BIC 2,000cc Challenge, held as part of National Race Day on Friday at Bahrain International Circuit in Sakhir.
Shaikh Salman showed his prowess as a former champion with the pair of fine results, which came against a strong field of up to 14 other racers.
Also having twice the reason to celebrate on the day were Masoud Behbehani and Abdul Samee. Behbehani won both races in the Bahrain Superbike Championship while Samee claimed the two sprints in the Bahrain Supersport Championship (BSSP) 125.
All the action at National Race Day took place along BIC’s 2.55-kilometre Inner Track.
In the 2,000cc Challenge, Shaikh Salman had a slow start to the meeting after being classified third in the practice session. In qualifying, however, the former champion found his form and steered his white Honda Civic to pole position. He clocked a best lap time of 1m 16.079s in only the second of four laps of work.
In race one, Shaikh Salman made the most of his leading starting position and went on to take the chequered flag after 12 laps in a time of 15m 41.348s. He finished with a 4.195s gap ahead of runner-up Ahmed bin Khanen, who was driving a white Honda Civic EG4. Tareq Al Tajer in a red Ford Focus completed the podium placers 16.483s back.
Each of the top three were competing in the Pro class of the 2,000cc Challenge.
In the Novice category, Majed Himmo in a yellow Civic was first, with Giovanni Salerno driving a blue Focus in second and Abdulla Al Qoud in third.
In race two, despite starting from the midfield in eighth position, Shaikh Salman managed to claim first place once again but this time he needed to overcome a tight battle with bin Khanen. Only 0.668s separated the pair in the end, with Nasser Al Alawi in a red Honda S2000 taking third place behind them.
Amongst the Novice competitors, Al Qoud was in first followed by Khalid Al Saei in a silver Renault Clio and Himmo in third.
Shaikh Salman registered the fastest lap in both races, first clocking a lap of 1m 15.684s and then going for 1m 16.749s in race two.
Meanwhile, in the BSBK, Behbehani was the pace setter from the onset, topping the timesheet in both practice and qualifying.
In race one, he completed the 11-lap event in 13m 05.452s. He was 6.757s ahead of runner-up Salman Khalaf, while Anthony Boira was a distant third 31.716s back. Behbehani clocked the fastest lap of 1m 10.505s.
In race two, Behbehani took the slimmest of victories in 13m 11.211s. He beat Khalaf to the finish by a mere 0.058s, while Boira was third 23.342s behind. Khalaf had the race’s fastest lap of 1m 10.774s.
In the BSSP 125, Samee was dominant from the start. He led the way in practice and qualifying, and then did the same in race one, winning the eight-lap sprint in 18m 05.549s. Yusuf Qaed and Subah Jassim took the other podium steps. Samee had the fastest lap of 1m 39.632s.
In race two, it was Samee and Qaed in the first two places, with Samee winning in 13m 27.503s and Qaed finishing just 3.345s behind. Shaun Gillespie was third in this race, 22.645s from the winner. Samee had the best lap of 1m 38.022s.
Following all the races, the winners were presented their respective trophies by officials from BIC, the Bahrain Motor Federation, the Circuit Racing Club and the Bahrain Motorcycle Club.