Drivers complete testing in new car ahead of the start of Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East Season 9 in Bahrain
The open pit sessions marked the start of an exciting new era as the most successful and professional racing series in the region combined forces for the first time with next generation of the world’s best-selling race car.
The vast majority of the new Season 9 driver line-up grasped the opportunity to experience the regional debut of the new Porsche GT3 Cup. Each pushed themselves and the newly developed four-litre, six-cylinder flat engine with direct fuel injection to the limits around the Sakhir circuit during 10 hours of track time.
In addition to welcoming the new car, Season 9 will introduce a host of new drivers to the championship as part of the most diverse and international grid ever assembled. Nine different nationalities will line for the opening race on the 17th November in Bahrain, including seven racers making their series debut stretching from Scotland to South Africa.
South African newcomer Saul Hack said: “Wow. The new engine delivers 485 hp and I used it all. The power and traction are incredible and I really enjoyed my first experience of the Bahrain circuit. In testing I feel I’ve ticked off a long line of firsts. First time in the car, on the Bahrain track and practising at night. And it’s all preparation for my first international race. But I’m in the right place to start this stage of my career. I’ve no real pressure apart from what I put on myself so I’m looking to be the leading rookie and build from there.”
For last season’s winner of the inaugural GCC Porsche GT3 Rookie Championship, Al Faisal Al Zubair testing was a chance to continue his good form and offered less of a journey into the unknown. Having raced throughout the summer in the Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup as support to eleven Formula 1 races, Al Zubair has already gained valuable experience in the new car.
Al Zubair commented: “To be honest I can’t wait to get started. Last season was my debut. I’d so much to learn. The cars, the tracks, the set up and the people. Everything felt new. But now I have a great advantage since I’m so familiar with the car. All feels comfortable and I’m confident of being in a position to fight for podiums and the drivers’ championship.”
The highly successful formula of Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East will continue in Season 9 and consists of six race weekends with 12 races over a period of six months. Drivers from nine different countries will compete Dubai Autodrome, Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi and Bahrain International Circuit.
After testing, championship Founder and Manager Walter Lechner said: “If beaming smiles are anything to go by then that was hugely productive two days for all drivers. Testing is always vital but with a new car and a host of new drivers making their debut it was extra important. New drivers are the lifeblood of the series so I especially want them to gradually find their feet. I’d never tell drivers to go slow but I’d certain tell them to drive within themselves. But with testing over now the countdown is really on and we’ve every ingredient necessary to make this the best season yet.”
The championship starts on 17th November in Bahrain as part of the FIA World Endurance Championship weekend at the Bahrain International Circuit and come to a thrilling conclusion by supporting official 2018 Formula 1 Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix weekend.