Young Lebanese driver Joe Ghanem once again showed his driving prowess in Round 4 of the Maserati Trofeo JBF RAK, which took place at Losail International Circuit in Qatar this weekend. The factory-backed one-make gentlemen’s driver series once again provided some spectacular on track action in most heart-stopping 30-minute races.
Friday saw the drivers take to the challenging 5.38km-long circuit for the first time with two 40-minute practice sessions before an action-packed 20-minute qualifying session.
At the fall of the flag it was Lebanon’s Joe Ghanem – and current Maserati Trofeo JBF RAK series leader – who posted the fastest time of the day with a 2:07.816. Italy’s Patrick Zamparini shared the front row of the grid for the start of Race 1 with a qualifying time of 2:08.376.
The first race got underway just after lunch on Saturday and was another nail biting 30-minutes of non-stop action. Patrick Zamparini lead early on in the race after getting the jump over Joe Ghanem, however Joe Ghanem battled hard to regain his position and passed Zamparini with just 5-minutes left on the clock. Saadon Al Kuwari took the 3rd step on the podium.
Teammates from GR8 Racing Team in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia had a good race with Mohammed Jawa and Faisal Shaker finishing 6th and 7th respectively, with Osamah Shaker following closely in 9th position.
Khaled Al Mudhaf took 8th position less than a second behind Faisal Shaker. The four drivers were embroiled within their own race-within-a-race throughout the 30-minutes.
The second qualifying session took place on Saturday morning with the young Lebanese driver once again posting the fastest time of 2:08.244 and securing another pole position to add to his tally. Sitting alongside him on the front of the grid was Qatar’s Saadon Al Kuwari who posted a best lap of 2:10.014.
Patrick Zamparini put himself out of the fight for the front row as he beached his Maserati GranTurismo MC Trofeo early in the session. However, he had already posted the third fastest time of the day with a 2:10.310 so was in a strong position for the race.
Joe Ghanem drove faultlessly in Race 2 and finished 59.973seconds clear of the field. Behind him Patrick Zamparini had to work hard to secure the second step of the podium as he came under pressure from fellow countryman Alberto Vesconi, Justino de Azcarate Riiveroll from Venezuela and home talent Saadon Al Kuwari.
It was the Qatari driver who was to take 3rd place at the end of the race as Alberto Vesconi and Justino de Azcarate Riiveroll took their battle one step too far and knocked each other out of the race – causing significant damage to their Maserati GranTurismo MC Trofeo race cars, but bruising little more than their egos in the process.
Zeehog improved massively on his performance in the first race coming home in a confident 4th position ahead of Faisal and Osamah Shaker. But there was drama in the final moments of the race as Mohammed Jawa found himself pointing the wrong way into the pit entrance after suffering a major spin – he had been running in a strong 8th position prior.
Joe Ghanem’s teammate in Leisure Racing Tani Hanna didn’t have the best weekend as he found himself in the gravel trap in Race 1, and only managed a 9th position finish in Race 2.
However, he did pick up valuable points in the Maserati Trofeo JBF RAK National points ranking.
In their first time in the Maserati GranTurismo MC Trofeo race car, the two driver pairing from the QMMF made up of Marwan Mussabeh and Rashid Al Sulaiti finished 5th and 9th in their respective races.