DRIVER NEWS: Best-ever F3 finish for Salman Al Khalifa
DRIVER NEWS: Bahraini racing driver Salman Al Khalifa secured his best-ever result in the British F3 International Series at the weekend with a second place finish in the National Class at Thruxton.
On his first-ever visit to the Hampshire circuit, the 2005 Formula BMW Asia champion achieved the second podium of his rookie Formula 3 season with a strong drive in Sunday’s second race which saw him complete a National Class one two for his T-Sport team, behind championship leader Sergio Perez.
Having qualified fifth-in-class for race one, Salman had to drive cautiously after suffering from severe tyre graining during the race. Although this limited his progress through the field, a sensible, error-free drive saw him hold off the cars behind and maintain his starting position to take fifth at the chequered flag.
However, having worked with his team to make some adjustments to his car’s set-up, Salman suffered no more tyre issues in the day’s second race and was rewarded with a fine second place. After a good start from fourth, Al Khalifa avoided a collision between Frankie Cheng and Michael Meadows on lap one to vault into second. Settling in behind team-mate Perez, Salman produced fast, consistent lap times and pulled away from third place Hamad Al Fardan, building a cushion which stretched to over 19 seconds over his fellow countryman at the flag.
A delighted Salman said: “It was a fantastic way to end the weekend for both myself and T-Sport and I’m delighted that I could repay them for all the hard work and positive encouragement they have given me.
“In race one I was just pleased to finish and score some points because my tyre issue affected the car a lot and I had to adapt the way I drove just to get it home. At the end of the race there were big holes in my front left as if someone had been gouging at it with a tea spoon! We made some changes to our set-up for race two though and things were much better. I didn’t push too hard so I could save the tyres, but my pace was consistent and not far off that of my team-mate Sergio, which was very pleasing.
“I’ve had my fair share of bad luck this season so to finish second is a great feeling.”
T-Sport Team Principal Russell Eacott added: “It has been a great weekend for the team and I was really happy for Salman to get on the podium. His performance in race two was really strong and if we can build on what has happened this weekend then I will be delighted.”