Tom Oliphant winning Race 2 in the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East Season 9
In the build-up to the opening weekend of the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East in Bahrain, the championship hosted its annual Night of Champions, a perfect way to launch the start of the new season.
The prestigious evening offered moments to savour for all drivers but especially last season’s champion Ryan Cullen of Ireland, Oman’s Silver category winner Al Faisal Al Zubair and Bronze category winner Magnus Ohman of Sweden, who were all presented their trophies.
On the same weekend as the Night of Champions, which took place the weekend before the opening round, testing sessions took place and 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.
In addition to welcoming the new car, Season 9 will introduce a host of new drivers to the championship. Nine different nationalities lined up for the opening race on the 17th November in Bahrain, including seven racers making their series debut stretching from Scotland to South Africa.
Round 1 of the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East got underway as part of the prestigious WEC weekend at the Bahrain International Circuit in Sakhir. In the much-anticipated opening race of the season and delivering a flawless drive from pole to chequered flag, Kuwaiti driver Zaid Ashkanani took the opening win of the championship and the first victory ever in a new generation GT3 Cup car in the region.
Under the lights at Bahrain International Circuit, Ashkanani returned to the championship he won back in 2014. Clocking some quick laps, the UK’s Tom Oliphant attempted to reduce the gap Ashkanani created, but the Kuwaiti showed his fellow Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup driver some impressive defence skills to race away and take the win.
Oman’s Al Faisal Al Zubair of Oman was back for a second consecutive season, and showed how much he’s learnt from his summer competing in the Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup. Although the Omani teenager saw his quickest lap time in qualifying deleted due to a track limits infringement, he powered off the grid from his fourth-place start and was a contender for second by the first turn. He found himself in a battle with Tom Oliphant, Charlie Frijns and Fahad Algosaibi for second throughout lap one, but showed confidence to push ahead and take third which he maintained to the finish.
The first race of the new season showcased why Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East is the leading motorsport series in the region, marking the start of a bright new chapter for regional racing.
British driver Tom Oliphant took the second race of the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East Season 9 in one of the most intense battles for first place ever seen in the series.
Starting from fourth on the grid at Bahrain International Circuit today, Oliphant delivered a masterclass in overtaking as he passed all three drivers ahead of him in a show of persistence and patience.