Ireland’s Cullen first, Frijns of Qatar second and Britain’s Oliphant third
Cullen victorious at Dubai Autodrome in second race of Round 3 of the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East
Ireland’s Ryan Cullen has won the second race of the third round of the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East Season 8 and extended his lead at the top of the driver’s championship to 17 points.
Cullen cruised to his second race win of the weekend taking the chequered flag by a comfortable winning margin of 2.54 seconds over his main rival and second placed driver in the championship Charlie Frijns of Qatar.
The Irishman had started second on the grid but quickly gained control on the opening lap and was untroubled throughout. Frijns had to work harder for his second position after losing the lead and falling back to fourth in the early stages. But the Doha-resident regained his composure and focus to bounce-back from a disappointing opening race. Frijns determination saw him overtake Tom Oliphant and Dylan Pereira on consecutive laps to settle for second with Britain’s Oliphant eventually finishing in third.
Speaking after back-to-back wins in Dubai Cullen said: “I didn’t get a great start today compared to yesterday, which meant Charlie was able to get in front of me going into turn one. As I tried to overtake we both locked up our wheels on the sand, we were pretty much side to side from then on from turn one all the way to turn ten. It was a clean battle and I managed to get past him on the straight. I then pulled open a 5-second gap on Charlie, he tried to close the gap on me towards the end of the race but I managed to keep everything under control.
“My performance this weekend puts me in a strong position now going into the next round. The other drivers know they will have to catch me now, which means I need to concentrate on being consistent, as we have seen from this weekend that anything can happen out there on the track.”
With the leading three drivers enjoying a clear track and a growing gap as the race progressed, the fight for fourth became the focus for fans and it didn’t disappoint. Pereira, Al Zubair and Alesayi were entangled in an enthralling dogfight lap after lap until the trio arrived into turn 14 three abreast. Al Zubair and Alesayi touched, spun, and as a result fell down the field. The small clash will have dented both driver’s title ambitions with Al Zubair coming in seventh and Alesayi ninth.
The undoing of Al Zubair and Alesayi played perfectly into the grateful hands of Wolfgang Triller who safely avoided the spinning cars of Al Zubair and Alesayi to finish fifth. Team Bahrain’s Isa S. Al Khalifa enjoyed another high finish and followed up his fifth place in the opening race with a sixth position in the second race.
Second place driver, Charlie Frijns said: “I had a great start, took a gap of half a second or something so I could breathe a little in the first lap. But then in the back straight I made a mistake, locked my front tyre. After that three cars passed me and, because it was a little bit dangerous to come back on track, I slowed down too much. Safety is number one though. After that I was stuck behind Dylan and Al Faisal. After I’d passed them, I decided to close the gap on Ryan. I closed it to two seconds, but it still wasn’t enough. This weekend I think I lost 27 points on Ryan. For Abu Dhabi there’s one goal – win both races. We will take each race at it comes and see what happens at the end of the championship.”
The eight Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East continues in the UAE with Round 4 taking place at Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi on February 10th and 11th 2017.
The championship represents the most professional series of its kind in the region and offers a proven pathway to world-class international motorsport. Season 8 features an international grid of 16 drivers representing 12 different nationalities covering every level of competition from professionals, amateurs and rookie drivers. International drivers hail from Ireland, Norway, Germany, Luxenberg, Sweden and Turkey with the best local drivers representing the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Qatar, Oman and Saudi Arabia.