One of the strongest grids in the history of the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East heads to the Dubai Autodrome as the series enters the half-way stage on the 13th and 14th December.
A highly competitive line-up featuring 16 cars and drivers spanning eleven nations, including the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Kuwait, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Qatar, will take on the Dubai Autodrome Circuit for Rounds 5 and 6 this weekend.
Drivers will have to face one of the most modern and challenging tracks in the world, as it has a combination of high-speed straights and technical corners covering 5.3 KM.
Reigning champion, Abdulaziz AlFaisal produced two outstanding races at the Yas Marina Circuit to win Rounds 3 and 4. The Saudi Falcons star saw off challenges to climb to the top of the championship table ahead of Al Nabooda Racing duo Karim Al-Azhari, Clemens Schmid, Kuwait’s Zaid Ashkanani and team mate Faisal Binladen.
The season is perfectly poised as the region’s most exciting and professional series comes to Dubai. Saudi’s AlFaisal and Austria’s Clemens Schmid have secured two wins each and the team title is in the balance with Al Nabooda Racing leading the Saudi Falcons team by seven points.
Walter Lechner, Manager of the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East, said: “The season will enter the half-way stage with the anticipation of two more fantastic rounds of racing. As we saw at the Yas Marina circuit, this is the most exciting racing series in the region with drama at every corner. In Abu Dhabi, Abdulaziz showed his champion’s form with two fantastic drives. But the rest of the grid will be back pushing him all the way at the Dubai Autodrome.”
“The Autodrome is a fantastic circuit that will test the skills of all participants. You need to be the complete driver to win in Dubai. But as we have seen with the season so far no one knows what to expect. No podiums have been the same, every position is fought for. In Abu Dhabi, we have had two drivers gain their first ever podium in the top category. So expect more twists and turns this weekend,” added Lechner.
AlFaisal has laid down the gauntlet to the chasing pack in his quest for a third championship, as he looks to stamp his authority on the champion and extend his lead over Schmid and Al-Azhari.
He said: “I was very happy with my performance at the Yas Marina. As good as it can get. I am aiming to break away from the pack now, but I know Clemens and Karim will be fighting hard in Dubai.”
Schmid will be looking to get back on track after falling behind AlFaisal. He was forced to withdraw mid-way through Round 3 with a mechanical problem, while in Round 4 he lost control of his GT3 Cup car while leading, but came back to claim second position.
Schmid said: “I had an issue with my car in Round 3 so I was forced to withdraw from the race and due to an error of judgement I spun off the track and lost the lead to AlFaisal. But I will be back in Dubai and AlFaisal should expect a tough fight over the next two rounds.”
Kuwait sensation Zaid Ashkanani, who recorded his first podium position in the top category at the Yas Marina Circuit, goes into Rounds 5 and 6 looking to re-produce the form he showed in the previous rounds and get into the top three.
He said: “It was a huge achievement to get onto the podium with the top drivers. My target once again is to get into the top three and put pressure on the guy’s in-front of me. We have the winter break coming up after this set of races so I will be putting all my energy into Rounds 5 and 6.”
Abdul Rahman Al Thani fashioned a scintillating final lap in Round 4 to claim third place over AL-Azhari and hopes his performance will make everyone take notice of his abilities.
He said: “I had a slow start to the season, so I need to make up for lost time. I have every intention of breaking into the leading pack, and replicating the qualities I showed in Dubai.”
With the series almost at the half-way stage, and a winter break for the championship ahead before returning to action in February in Saudi Arabia, it is entering into the business stage for those battling for top accolades, with minimum room for error.