The Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East reaches the climax of its third season at Bahrain International Circuit this weekend with a newly-crowned champion Abdulaziz Al Faisal looking to underline his mastery of the one-make series.
After clinching his second Porsche GT3 Cup title in three years in Qatar earlier this month, Abdulaziz wants to round off the 2011-12 campaign with a flourish, and that could mean a dramatic battle with young Austrian star Clemens Schmid.
Like Schmid, Abdulaziz has already notched up four race victories this season, and he is eager to cap another triumphant season by finishing it as the driver with the most wins for the third year in a row.
Schmid was bitterly disappointed to lose the advantage of pole position in Round 9 in Qatar but bounced back immediately 24 hours later to take the next round and underline his undoubted pedigree.
While he has not contested the championship in full, he has topped qualifying in seven rounds and will be looking for a winning finish to the season in Bahrain to snatch third place overall from Saudi’s Saeed Al Mouri.
After claiming his first podium place on home territory last month, Al Mouri had to settle for fourth on both days when the Porsche GT3 Cup series made its debut under the brilliant lights of Qatar’s Losail International Circuit.
He will be determined to get back on the podium in Bahrain, as will fellow-Saudi Bandar Alesayi and UAE driver Karim Al Azhari.
Barring a disastrous weekend in Bahrain, Alesayi is certain to finish runner-up in the championship, despite failing to secure a top-three finish in any of the last three rounds.
Al Azhari made his podium breakthrough for Dubai’s Al Nabooda Racing in Qatar and is therefore slightly ahead of schedule in terms of achievements, having entered the Porsche GT3 Cup series only at the half way stage.
Veteran Qatari driver Saadon Al Kuwari, enjoying an outstanding debut season, is set to clinch the Michelin Silver Trophy after dominating the intermediate class. Meanwhile German Hannes Waimer looks certain to be crowned Mobil 1 Trophy winner in the bronze category.
The final race weekend of the Porsche GT3 Cup season will be followed by the official prize giving taking place at the private island of the Sofitel Bahrain Zallaq Thalassa Sea and Spa on Saturday night.
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