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Unstoppable al-Khelaifi clinches another double.

Race-winner Abdulla al-Khelaifi (second from right) on the podium for Race 1 of third round of Qatar Touring Car Championship, with second-placed Mansoor al-Hajri (centre) and third-placed Adham El Dib. Also seen are QMMF president Abdulrahman al-Mannai (second from left), QMMF general-secretary Abdulrazak al-Kuwari (left).

By Sports Reporter/Doha

Abdulla al-Khelaifi completed yet another perfect round in his Qatar Touring Car Championship title defence, winning both the races of the third round at the Losail International Circuit. In the first race, pole-sitter al-Khelaifi never relinquished his lead through to the checkered flag, and beat Mansoor al-Hajri by 1.516 seconds. The third place in the podium was for Adham El Dib. In the second race, with a reverse grid, al-Khelaifi started from the last position and had to fight for positions with al-Hajri and Hamad al-Asam, but eventually took the win, crossing the line 1.241 seconds ahead of al-Asam. Al-Hajri was again on the podium, this time in third. "In the first race, my start was good. Hamad had a problem at the start, so I secured the first corner and from there on I built a gap. The weather is very hot for the tyres and it was very difficult, so at the end of the race we all slowed down to cool down the tyres," al-Khelaifi said. "The second race was more exciting as I started in the last position. I had a big fight with Mansoor at the beginning and then with Hamad. Hamad was hard to pass as he has advantage on the straights. So I tried out-braking him in the corners and then built the gap." Al-Hajri was looking back to being more competitive in the coming rounds. "Finally, after two rounds of struggle I am back on the podium. I wasn't really prepared for this championship this season. I wasn't sure I was going to participate this year," he said. "In the first two rounds, I had a lot of issues with my car. I was finally able to fix it and now I am back on the podium. My lap time proved that I can be competitive and I can stay with the leader, with Abdulla, who is flying. I need to do a lot of work though. I have fixed the mechanical part now but I need to work on the set-up again and be more competitive and have fun with the guys in the front," al-Hajri said. "The Race 2 with the reverse grid is very difficult. Adham was very fast and he was blocking very well but I managed to pass him. Then Hamad and Abdulla had a really good gap, I tried in the last two laps to catch them but I needed more than two laps to challenge them. But I am happy that I got good results this weekend." El Dib, who had a problem with the gearbox in the previous round, managed to be on the podium for the first race, but was sixth in the second. "I had to change the gearbox but I managed to do some adjustments and it worked. Happy to be back on podium again," he said. Al-Asam was very happy to get his first podium of the season in the second race of the day. "I was hoping to fight in the beginning of the season but the car was not in good shape. For this round, we had a gap of 3 weeks, so I worked a lot on the set up and it was risky as I changed a lot of things but the car was perfect," he said. After the third round, al-Khelaifi leads the standings with 116 points, while El Dib is second with 69 points and al-Hajri third with 66 points. Trophies were presented by QMMF president Abdulrahman al-Mannai, QMMF general-secretary Abdulrazak al-Kuwari. The next round of Qatar Touring Car Championship will be held on February 16-17, 2018.

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Publication:Gulf Times (Doha, Qatar)
Geographic Code:7QATA
Date:Feb 5, 2018
Words:666
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