Drivers gear up for Yas Marina Circuit as Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East action continues this weekend
After two back-to-back rounds of thrilling racing action in Dubai, the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East heads to the UAE capital for Round 4, marking the halfway stage of an already exhilarating Season 8 campaign.
Marking the third and last round in the UAE and the fourth overall in the championship, Abu Dhabi fans will see pivotal points raced for this weekend before the drivers head back to Bahrain for the final two rounds of the season. With each category title chase wide open, and a total of only 48 points separating the top six drivers in the overall standings, a strong performance in both races of Round 4 could result in more movement between positions for any driver.
The famous Yas Marina Circuit, which plays host to the reputable Abu Dhabi Formula One Grand Prix each year, will now act as the perfect stage to inspire the drivers of the region’s most competitive racing series. For the first time in the championship’s history, drivers will be racing the full Grand Prix configuration of the track comprising of 21 turns over a distance of 5.54 km.
UAE-based driver Bashar Mardini will be returning to the Abu Dhabi circuit, but this time under different driving conditions. After competing in the Gulf 12hr race with Porsche in 2015 at Yas Marina Circuit, the experienced driver will be hoping to use his knowledge of the track as an advantage over those competing at the circuit for the first time. Currently sitting only 22 points off a third place podium finish in the silver category, Mardini knows that there is everything to play for in the three remaining rounds of season 8.
Speaking ahead of Round 4 in Abu Dhabi, Bashar Mardini, said: “This is going to be big for me, I love driving at this circuit and having driven here before I will be hoping to set some strong times initially in practice and follow up with a solid qualifying time ahead of the races. At this stage of the season, it’s all about pushing for as many points as possible and putting the pressure on those at the top of the category standings.
“I have enjoyed every part of the season so far, and I can feel myself getting more and more confident with each race. It’s been a huge learning experience for me from the very start, especially driving on some of the circuits for the first time. I’m hoping to continue to build on my performances and results over the remaining rounds.”
Championship leader Ryan Cullen has extended his lead at the top of the standings to 17 points after emphatic back-to-back wins at the Dubai Autodrome in Round 3. Charlie Frijns sits behind Cullen on 123 points, with UK driver Tom Oliphant sitting in third position with 112 points. A maximum of 50 points are on offer over the two races in Round 4, so the championship remains wide open going into the second half of the season. The Silver and Bronze categories are just a close with only 26 points separating the top three drivers in Silver, and a mere 13 points separating the top three in Bronze.
As the series looks ahead to racing on the full Grand Prix configured track at the Yas Marina Circuit, Walter Lechner, founder and manager of the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East, said: “We are at a very important stage of the competition. Sitting at the halfway point, drivers will know if they are achieving the objectives they set at the start of the season, and will start to set new targets for the remaining rounds. It’s always great to see the competition so close, and Yas Marina Circuit never disappoints when it comes to racing action. It’s a great track to have as part of the championship, and a lot of the new drivers will be excited to race here. I’m looking forward to seeing the series continue from the last round in Dubai and interested to see who will come out on top of this season’s ever-changing leaderboard.”
Moving into the final three rounds of the championship, fans can experience the action of Round 4 from the stands at Yas Marina Circuit on 10th and 11th February 2017. Race 1 will take place under the lights at 6pm on Friday 10th, with Race 2 at the earlier time of 3.15pm on Saturday 11th.