Hanses takes victory by 0.004 seconds in opening round of Porsche Sprint Challenge ME

by Vince Pettit

Julian Hanses secured victory in a photo finish at the Bahrain International Circuit for the first round of the Porsche Sprint Challenge Middle East in a hard-fought battle with Leon Koehler and Berkay Besler.

There was drama at the start of the race when pole-sitter Koehler failed to get away from the grid; thankfully, the field scrambled to avoid the stricken Porsche without incident.

Besler took the lead of the field with Hanses following closely, Jean-Baptiste Simmenauer slotted into third place after getting the jump on Saul Hack away from the grid.

On lap 2 Daan Van Kuijk lost control of his car under braking after straying on to a damp curb, by this point Koehler was already on the move, making up four places in the opening laps.

Philipp Sager narrowly avoided a more significant moment after spinning at turn 10, managing to get his car turned around and back into the race pretty quickly.

At the front Besler and Hanses were pulling away as Simmenauer fended off the challenge from Hack. On lap 5 Hack managed to pass the Frenchman only to lose out a few corners later as Koehler passed him on the inside and Simmenauer squeezed him from the outside; Koehler moved into a podium spot as Hack dropped down to ninth place after being tapped by Simmenauer.

With half of the race gone Koehler was making good progress, but with the laps counting down it looked like he may run out of time to catch the leading pair of Porsche’s.

As Besler defended from Hanses, Koehler closed in and on the last-lap overtook Besler into the first corner after setting up a move on to the start-finish straight.

Hanses was counting down the corners nervously as Koehler tried to find a way around for the lead. As the trio entered the final turn, it looked like Kohler had managed to get the better of he countryman, trying a pass around the outside of the last corner.

Hanses held on as they tried to out-drag each other to the chequered flag, the final result saw a gap of just four-thousandths of a second between the two Germans with Besler taking third place.

Jesse Van Kuijk took victory in the Pro-Am class while Jaber Al Kalifa secured the Am Class win; fastest lap went to Leon Koehler on lap 3 with a time of 2:03.628.

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