After playing his part in providing Qatar with a memorable introduction to the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East, Saadon Al Kuwari has already set his sights higher as he looks to confirm his country’s first title success in the series in Bahrain later this month.
Barring a succession of improbable events in the final two rounds of the championship at Bahrain International Circuit on March 30-31, Al Kuwari is certain to clinch the Michelin Silver Trophy after dominating the intermediate class this season.
The veteran former Qatar rally champion will now use the final race weekend of the season to prepare himself for the 2012-13 campaign when he will challenge new Porsche GT3 Cup champion Abdulaziz Al Faisal and the rest of the top level drivers.
“Next season I’ll be in the gold class so I want to fight for places with the top drivers in Bahrain and see what I can learn,” he said. “I’m getting used to the GT3 Cup car more and more and I’m looking forward to stepping up next season.”
Al Kuwari all but clinched the Michelin Silver Trophy as the Porsche one-make series made its debut at Qatar’s International Circuit earlier this month, topping the class in both Round 9 and 10 to build a virtually unassailable 21-point advantage over Swiss driver Armin Schmid.
It was an emotional occasion for the Qatari, as he showed with some gleeful celebrations on the podium where he sang his country’s national anthem with visible pride.
While he was able to capitalise on local knowledge of the Losail track as the GT3 Cup series added night racing to its curriculum, Al Kuwari faces a completely different test in Bahrain where his only track time came during two days of testing last month.
“It’s very different from Losail which was made for bikes and has long, fast corners,” he explained. “Bahrain is an F1 circuit and you go flat out, brake, and then turn.
“The track eats the tyres and after seven or eight laps they’re completely finished. After that, you have to use your muscles to control the car. It’s like driving in the Swedish Rally.”
Qatar’s interest in the Porsche GT3 Cup series this season has been increased by the challenge of Doha-based team-mates, Dutchman Rob Frijns and Austrian Manfred Ender, for the bronze level Mobil 1 Trophy.
That prize is set to be secured in Bahrain by German driver Hannes Waimer, although Frijns and Ender can take pleasure in the fact that they have contributed to a highly competitive season through each of the three championship classes.
1. Abdulaziz Al Faisal (KSA) Saudi Falcons 186pts (champion)
2. Bandar Alesayi (KSA) Saudi GT Racing 144pts
3. Saeed Al Mouri KSA) Saudi Falcons 128pts
4. Clemens Schmid (AUT) 126pts
5. Ahmad Al Harthy (OM) Oman Air Racing 106pts
6. Saadon Al Kuwari (QA) 88pts
7. Stephane Lemeret (BEL) Al Nabooda Racing 86pts
8. Armin Schmid CH Team TCE 67pts
9. Hannes Waimer (GER) Team TCE 50pts
10. Karim Al Azhari (UAE) Al Nabooda Racing 43pts
1. Saadon Al Kuwari (QA) 88pts
2. Armin Schmid (CH) Team TCE 67pts
3. Hans Guido Riegel (GER) Haribo Racing 39pts
4. Mark Thomas (CAN) 27pts
1. Hannes Waimer (GER) 50pts
2. Manfred Ender (AUT) Frins Structural Steel 36pts
3. Rob Frijns (NL) Frins Structural Steel 33pts
4. Fawaz Algosaibi (KSA) ClassicArabia Racing 31pts