GULFWEEKLY: Race ace Raed Raffii proved his mettle in the 2020/2021 BIC 2,000cc Challenge as he was crowned champion over the weekend at the Bahrain International Circuit (BIC) in Sakhir, writes Mai Al-Khatib-Camille.
The 32-year-old ended his title-winning season in style with a double victory in the seventh and final round of the highly competitive 12-driver field.
Raffii, who races in the Pro Category, brought his season total to eight wins from 14 races. He was also on the podium for the other six races, making for a spectacular campaign.
“Last year we were second in the championship and we said that this year we need to aim for victory,” said Raffii who is the team leader of roaming services for stc Bahrain. He also races for the Saudi telecommunications company in a Honda S2000.
“Being able to compete with the best talent in Bahrain and get that result is something I am particularly proud of because this event has been making the headlines for 14 years. That’s probably the longest running championship in Bahrain. I am honoured to be a part of it and to be crowned champion is amazing.
“It’s also an honour to represent stc Bahrain and be their motorsport ambassador. I’d like to thank them and, of course, my racing chief for all the support. They helped build me the winning package and to materialise that into a championship victory and fastest lap of the season is super. I’m hoping for a lot more.”
In Race One, Raffii and Raed Himmo were engaged in a tough battle during the first half but then Himmo was forced to retire on the seventh lap. Raffii took advantage and powered on to take the chequered flag in 15:40.763 after 12 laps.
Andreas Buelow was the overall runner-up in his Honda Civic while also taking the win amongst the novice class runners a distant 26.164 seconds behind Raffii. Ramzi Al Qassab, in an Acura DC5, came third 28.604s from first place, also in the novice category.
Tareq Al Tajer in a Ford Focus was fourth overall and second behind Raffii amongst Pro class participants.
Majed Himmo in a Honda Civic was fifth and Martyna Al Qassab in an Acura DC5 sixth. Rounding out the classification from seventh through 11th were Ali Al Mansoori, Giovanni Salerno (Ford Focus), Mohammed Janahi (Honda Integra) and Wiebke Buelow (Honda Civic).
Raed Himmo clocked the fastest lap of 1:16.932 before retiring from the race.
In the round’s second sprint, Martyna Al Qassab was at the front of the start grid but it was Majed Himmo who was in the lead by the end of the first lap. He and Raffii were engaged in a two-horse tussle and Raffii was able to gain the upper hand on lap six. He held on to the lead from there and took the chequered flag in 15:41.394.
Majed Himmo continued to fight but on lap nine was overtaken by Raed Himmo, who eventually finished runner-up 8.577s off Raffii’s winning pace. Majed Himmo had to settle for the final overall podium step 20.599s adrift, while also being classified first in the Novice class.
Al Mansoori, Andreas Buelow, Martyna Al Qassab, Salerno and Wiebke Buelow were all in the top eight, while Janahi and Al Tajer completed the results.
Raed Himmo once again set the fastest time of 1:17.185.
The winners were presented their trophies in separate podium ceremonies.
The event was organised by the BIC in co-operation with the Bahrain Motor Federation and Circuit Racing Club and Motorsport Marshals Club.