Qatar’s Abdul Rahman Al Thani and Saadon Al Kuwari, two drivers at the opposite stages of their driving careers, will be in a record line-up when the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East headlines for the first time at Losail International Circuit this weekend.
Abdul Rahman steps up into Porsche one-make series racing for the first time from the UAE Radical Cup where he currently holds third position in the 12-race Supersport championship.
It will be a stern test for the 20-yearold driver but one he will relish, with an impressive 18 GT3 Cup cars now confirmed on the starting grid for the first time in the Middle East.
Qatar’s excitement at hosting its first GT3 Cup rounds, and the first night races since the series was launched, is heightened by the prospect of a first Qatari Porsche champion in the intermediate class Michelin Silver Trophy.
Veteran Al Kuwari holds a nine-point advantage from Armin Schmid and will be hoping local knowledge of the Losail circuit will help him increase his lead over the Swiss driver.
Chasing a second overall Porsche title success in three years, Saudi Arabia’s championship leader Abdulaziz Al Faisal could take a major step towards that target in Rounds 9 and 10 on Friday and Saturday night.
His nearest challenger, fellow-Saudi Bandar Alesayi, trails the 2009-10 champion by 16 points and needs a big race weekend in Doha to revive his fading title ambitions.
The biggest challenge to Abdulaziz in Qatar, however, could come from young Austrian star Clemens Schmid who has matched the Saudi’s three race wins this season and is relishing another two-round battle for supremacy.
Both will also be aware of the threat from Oman’s Ahmad Al Harthy who returns to the series after missing the last two rounds in Saudi and will be hoping to reproduce the form which took him to victory in Round 4 at Abu Dhabi’s Yas Marina Circuit.
The arrival of the Porsche GT3 Cup series in Qatar is receiving major support from Porsche Centre Doha, Al Boraq Automobiles, which has invited 7,000 customers and other Porsche enthusiasts to watch the action. The Porsche representative will host guests at an exclusive VIP lounge and display an impressive model line-up at the circuit.
Fresh from his first GT3 Cup podium finish on home territory at Reem International Circuit earlier this month, Saeed Al Mouri will be aiming for a repeat performance at Losail to strengthen his grip on third place in the series. After missing Rounds 7 and 8 at Reem, a fourth Saudi driver, Fawaz Algosabi, has given himself a lot of ground to make up on German Hannes Waimer in the hunt for the Mobil 1 Trophy for rookies and drivers over 45.
1. Abdulaziz Al Faisal (KSA) Saudi Falcons 148pts
2. Bandar Alesayi (KSA) Saudi GT Racing 132pts
3. Saeed Al Mouri KSA) Saudi Falcons 100pts
4. Clemens Schmid (AUT) 88pts
5. Stephane Lemeret (BEL) Al Nabooda Racing 86pts
6. Ahmad Al Harthy (OM) Oman Air Racing 80pts
7. Saadon Al Kuwari (QA) 67pts
8. Armin Schmid CH Team TCE 58pts
9. Hannes Waimer (GER) Team TCE 43pts
10. Hans Guido Riegel (GER) Haribo Racing 39pts
1. Saadon Al Kuwari (QA) 67pts
2. Armin Schmid (CH) Team TCE 58pts
3. Hans Guido Riegel (GER) Haribo Racing 39pts
4. Mark Thomas (CAN) 27pts
1. Hannes Waimer (GER) 43pts
2. Rob Frijns (NL) 31pts
3. Fawaz Algosaibi (KSA) ClassicArabia Racing 30pts
4. Manfred Ender (AUT) 26pts
5. Cengiz J.Oguzhan (TUR) 9pts
6. Jaber Al Khalifa (BAH) 7pts