AS CURTAINS came down on the season, it was time for the Qatar Motor and Motorcycle Federation (QMMF) to reflect on its achievements.
In addition to the regular stream of plum international events, including the MotoGP, Motocross, FIA Cross-Country Rally, FIA Middle East Rally, World Touring Car Championship and World Superbike Championship, a novel feature of the 2016-17 season was the introduction of Qatar Superstock 600CC (QSTK) championship for bikes and Qatar Touring Car Championship (QTCC).
Primarily aimed at nurturing local talents, both championships met the desired objectives. The QSTK was a runaway success by all means. The title was decided only in the final round and just five points separated the winner and runner-up.
QMMF President Abdulrahman Al Mannai, the man behind the championships, believes the concept is here to stay.
“Our pre-season goals were to have new Qatari faces in the championships and reduce the cost. We achieved both targets. Of course, there’re some areas for improvement and we’ll work on them in the next season so that these championships can grow even bigger and better,” Al Mannai told Doha Stadium Plus on the sidelines of Prize Giving Gala for QSTK and QTCC winners last week.
Both QSTK and QTCC comprised 12 races from six rounds. It started in January and finished in the last week of May. All rounds except the last were held in day time while the season finale was organised under lights at the Losail International Circuit.
The QSTK, a one-make championship, had a consolidated entry fee that covered the cost of the bike, fuel for the race and use of professional mechanics to keep the bike race-ready, making it affordable to all.
Two official tests were held in November to identify the riders and drivers who could take part in the championships.
“The tests gave the competitors a chance to get acquainted with the machine ahead of the season.
“The bike had the same manufacturer, which made the championship more competitive. The short season was always a big challenge for us. So, we’re contemplating squeezing in one more round for the next season. But we’ll first take the opinion of participants before taking a final decision,” Al Mannai added.
Al Mannai assumed charge as QMMF president in February, 2016, when the season was in progress.
The year that went by was his first full season in charge and he waxed eloquent about the positives.
“I took over in the middle of the season last year and some commitments had already been made. I didn’t want to change that.
“This year, I had more time at my disposal. I’m very much satisfied with the number of events that we hosted at the Losail circuit. On weekends, there were multiple events. We had problem about managing them, but I would rather say it was good to have a problem of plenty.
“Our focus will also be on the continuity of events and their improvement. Next season, we’ll encourage more people to come to the track, bring their families, try different sports here and help us lift the standards of all events here,” he concluded.