New international drivers for Season 9 increases global appeal of Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East
Season 9 of the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East is poised to be the most international in the history of the series with nine different nations to feature on a highly competitive grid when the championship starts in Bahrain on the 17th November, 2017.
Such is the global reputation and growing appeal of the highly successful one-make series, Season 9 will see new drivers from as far as South Africa and Great Britain descend to make their debuts in the championship.
Returning this season are two Saudi drivers at very different stages of their racing careers. Mohammed Al Saud competed in the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East for the first time in Season 8, while fellow countryman Fahad Algosaibi has featured in the championship on four different occasions.
Teenager Mohammed Al Saud gained valuable experience in the competition last season and, although only being able to compete for half of the season, challenged for both the Bronze category title and the Porsche GCC Rookie title early on. The young driver showed exciting promise during the early rounds and will be looking for a strong start to his Season 9 campaign.
Experienced driver Fahad Algosaibi will also be hoping for a successful return to the championship. The well-known Saudi driver made an unforgettable debut during the 2009-10 season. Aged just 16, he became the youngest ever competitor and winner in more than 20 years of Porsche one-make series racing. Fahad has gone on to compete in many racing events including the Dubai 24 hours, and he will return to the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East to challenge for the title once more.
Season 9 will include drivers hailing from Germany, Great Britain, Netherlands, Sweden as well as returning and new local stars from the Middle East region representing Bahrain, Oman, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait.
As well as new drivers, the new season also makes the much anticipated introduction of the brand new Porsche 911 GT3 Cup to the region for the first time. The latest edition of the world’s best-selling race car features a four-litre, six-cylinder flat engine with direct fuel injection, delivering 485 hp and the expectation of quicker lap times than ever before.
All drivers, including local favourites Al Faisal al Zubair of Oman, Saudi Arabia’s Fahad Algosaibi and Qatar’s Charlie Frijns, are due to complete pre-season testing at the Bahrain International Circuit on the 11th - 12thNovember 2017.
The strength and depth of the series is proven by confirmation that an international grid of 17 cars will feature for the opening race in Bahrain on the 17th November, 2017 as a support race to the FIA World Endurance Championship.
Speaking ahead of testing, Saudi Arabia’s Mohammed Al Saud said: “I am ready for the new season of Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East. The most challenging problem I faced last year was not knowing the circuits well enough. It was tough to get used to the car while also driving on circuits that I had never raced. Now I have the experience on the tracks, and I am ready to start again.
“I recently visited Pembery Race Circuit in Wales for a testing session, which helped me to find some form ahead of testing here in the Middle East. Also during the summer, I drove on different circuits across Europe, such the Nürburgring, to help me develop further. The goal for Season 9 is to win my category, but I know it’s going to be a tough challenge. Last year, it was an opportunity to learn, this season is the time to compete.”
The series was the first and remains the only regional championship backed by a manufacturer in the Middle East, and Season 9 will see the series set even higher standards as founder and manager Walter Lechner of Lechner Racing commented: “This championship has evolved into something that is truly special and offers an unrivalled experience for all. It has stood the test of time and has a legacy to be proud of. But I believe with a new car and such a diverse group of drivers, our future is even brighter than our past. We have a truly global footprint and family of drivers all ready to race and hone their skills in the Middle East. I’m sure the new drivers will relish every moment and we look forward to welcoming them.
“It really is the pinnacle of racing in the Middle East and a breeding ground for the sport at an international level.”
The Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East will consist of six race weekends with 12 races over a period of six months. Drivers will compete across the region with confirmed circuits including Dubai Autodrome, Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi and Bahrain International Circuit.
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.