*** ----> Bahrain’s Isa back on track | THE DAILY TRIBUNE | KINGDOM OF BAHRAIN

Bahrain’s Isa back on track

Manama : Even a hazy Bahrain sky couldn’t block Dylan Pereira’s sights on the podium this weekend, as the young Luxembourg driver repeated his Race 1 form to take his second win. Pereira’s double win leaves the championship title undecided, and left to be resolved in a climatic final round taking place at the 2018 Formula 1 Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix.

Team Bahrain’s Isa S. Al Khalifa bounced back from a disappointing result in Race 1 of the weekend, securing a tenth-place finish overall and collected some important points. After incurring a track penalty from Race 1, Al Khalifa started from 17th on the grid regardless of his qualifying session. The young Bahraini driver knew he had his work cut out from the very start, and had to drive a very strategic race.

Al Khalifa picked off his opponents one by one to eventually move up seven positions and cross the finish line in tenth place. Speaking after the race, Al Khalifa said: “The race was quite interesting due to the penalty I incurred from Race 1. I started at the back of the grid and always knew it was going to be hard work. I wanted to focus on having a good race, and try to recoup as many points as possible.

“I had a great start and was side-by-side with Christoffer Bergstroem all the way to the first turn. I managed to gain another two positions early, and was happy to continue my race in 15th until the next opportunity came. The new tires helped me a lot and my pace was quick. I moved up a couple more positions into tenth and held that until the end of the race. I moved up seven places in total and just missed out on a podium finish in my category. I’m looking forward to the next round and hope I can raise the Bahrain flag in front of my home fans.”

Second member of Team Bahrain Isa A. Al Khalifa achieved back-to-back podiums in his return to the championship this weekend, finishing in seventh place overall and second place in the Silver Category, a position higher than his third-place finish in Race 1.

Ahead of Team Bahrain, no one could match Pereira’s pace as he pushed himself up to second from his fourth-place start by the first turn, before overtaking Charlie Frijns in lap two and pulling clear of the grid until the chequered flag. Frijns who started in pole, conceded his place to Pereira before Oliphant forced him to lock his brakes under pressure and sacrifice his tires. Oliphant ended the race in second with Frijns holding out for third. 


Commenting on his productive weekend, Dylan Pereira said: “I decided to run on old tires in qualifying and change to new for the race. The conditions were not great, a lot of dust and sand on the track, so I knew my tires would play an important part. I started well from fourth on the grid, moving up to second place straight away. My pace was quick and I took the opportunity in the first lap to overtake Charlie Frijns. As I pulled away, Frijns tried to defend his position against Oliphant which gifted me even more time to extend my lead.

With Pereira taking maximum points, championship leader Tom Oliphant’s hopes of glory now hang in the balance. As the British driver will not compete in Round 6, his dreams of lifting his first Porsche championship title have almost slipped away. Unless his closest rival Al Faisal Al Zubair of Oman performs poorly in the last two races of the season, Oliphant is likely to be pushed out of contention for the Season 9 title. 

The British driver’s fate lies in the hands of Omani teenage sensation Al Zubair, who was given a five-place grid position penalty for colliding with Oliphant in Race 1, which ultimately resulted in the British’s drivers DNF. Qualifying in fourth, Al Zubair saw his penalty place him ninth on the grid and with a lot of work to do. Following a poor start due to congestion ahead of him into turn one, the Omani star climbed up the grid, position by position, over the 12 laps to finish in fifth.

Race 2 of Round 5 at Bahrain International Circuit saw 18 drivers race 12 laps of the Formula 1 track configuration. The series comes to a thrilling conclusion in Round 6 as an official support race for the 2018 Formula 1 Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix, 7-8 April 2018.