Home News Bernstorff wins opening Formula Middle East races

Bernstorff wins opening Formula Middle East races

by Peter Allen

European F3 racer Emil Bernstorff won the first two races in the new Formula Middle East series in Bahrain on Friday.

The championship, which uses the Formula BMW chassis and is organised by Motorsport Asia, Bahrain International Circuit and Eurointernational, will be run over 18 races across six weekends with further dates in Abu Dhabi and Dubai as well as negotiations over a support event at the Bahrain Grand Prix.

Bernstorff claimed pole position by half a second over Italian Tomasso Menchini and Malaysian Nabil Jeffri and took a comfortable victory in the opening race with a margin of six seconds to second-placed Jeffri. Menchini, who last raced in Italian Formula Renault 2.0 back in 2011, failed to complete the opening lap on a damp track following overnight rain.

“It was great. I had a good start, I made a small mistake in the first lap but the rest of the time I really didn?t have much behind me so it was a good win,” said Bernstorff. “The track was kind of slippery for the race, which was the reason why I had a little moment. We were about half a second slower, the track didn?t get better from this morning. I hear it doesn?t rain very often but then again you never know.”

Jeffri, who has raced for Eurointernational in the JK Racing Asia Series and will step up to German F3 this year, said: “It’s not bad. I was not quite on the pace, we will have a look at the data after this for the next race on where to improve. Emil is a good driver so its good to have a comparison to him. I?m going to learn as much as possible after this and hopefully do it much faster than him. It?s a little slippery earlier but its getting better and better, hopefully its going to rain after this as I am a lot better in the rain.”

24-year-old Raed Raffii led the local contingent, 19 seconds behind Bernstorff at the end of the 15 lap race, and was presented with a Regional Driver Winner trophy. 29-year-old cousin Faisal Raffii was fourth ahead of Malaysian JKRAS driver Ashraff Dewal. Karting graduates Abdulla Al Thawadi, Adeeb Kuzbar and Ali Al-Khalifa finished sixth, seventh and ninth, with 46-year-old Frenchman Christophe Mariot in eighth.

Bernstorff led from lights to flag again in race two, this time increasing his winning margin over Jeffri to 11 seconds. Menchini had more bad luck as he was handed a drive-through penalty for a jump start but fought back to fifth at the finish.

“The race was quite similar to the first one, I had a good start and just pulled away from the pack behind me,” said British-born Bernstorff. “The car felt a little bit different than the first race but I think it was the same for everyone but it was a good race.”

Jeffri said: “I couldn?t have done better because I started in third and my start was not that good so I am happy with second. I am still learning a lot.”

Raed Raffii was again on the podium in third ahead of Faisal and Menchini, with Al-Thawadi, Kuzbar, Mariot, Dewal and Al-Khalifa completing the finishers.

Race 1 results

Pos ?Driver? Time/Gap
1 Emil Bernstorff 16:47.279
2 Nabil Jeffri +6.345
3 Raed Raffii +19.705
4 Faisal Raffii +26.392
5 Ashraff Dewal +39.491
6 Abdulla Al-Thawadi +43.308
7 Adeeb Kuzbar +44.041
8 Christophe Mariot +1 Lap
9 Ali Al-Khalifa +1 Lap
Ret Tommaso Menchini +10 laps

Race 2 results

Pos ?Driver? Time/Gap
1 Emil Bernstorff 16:47.006
2 Nabil Jeffri +11.388
3 Raed Raffii +21.135
4 Faisal Raffii +22.987
5 Tommaso Menchini +44.480
6 Abdulla Al-Thawadi +46.772
7 Adeeb Kuzbar +47.394
8 Christophe Mariot +1:04.038
9 Ashraff Dewal +1:05.267
10 Ali Al-Khalifa +1 Lap