New Porsche GT3 Cup car set to debut in 2017 season
Organiser reveals revved up plans for the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East Season 9
Following an emphatic eighth edition of the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East, plans are already well in motion for a spectacular return for Season 9 later on this year. The announcement comes midway through the global motorsport calendar, and whilst some of the drivers that competed in the Middle East over the winter period, are battling it out in the prestigious Porsche Mobile 1 Supercup across Europe this summer.
Championship organiser Lechner Racing has revealed heightened interest from drivers keen to be a part of the future schedule, thanks to the regional debut of the brand-new Porsche GT3 Cup cars in Season 9 and the continued commitment to deliver a world-class series to nurture racing talent in the Middle East.
The UAE will hope to see the return of Bashar Mardini after a successful debut outing last season, with further potential for new talent to join the grid, hopeful to follow in the footsteps of previous local champion Jeffery Schmidt.
Kuwait will hope to see potential new talent joining the grid in Season 9, representing motorsport in the country and hoping to follow in the footsteps of previous Kuwaiti champion Zaid Ashkanani. The Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East was established with the vision of offering drivers from the region a pathway to compete on the international stage and at the highest level of motorsport.
After eight successful seasons that pathway is now very much proven with several drivers emerging through the championship to reach the pinnacle of one-make racing, the Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup, as founder and manager of the series, Walter Lechner, explained: “2017 has felt like a watershed moment for the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East. It was always our dream to create a series that could fulfil the ambitions of drivers in the region. Now in one glance at the starting grid of the Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup and the motorsports world can see that dream become a reality.
“Al Faisal Al Zubair, Zaid Ashkanani, Ryan Cullen, Dylan Pereira are all graduates of our Middle East series and perfect examples of what is possible. The pathway into elite racing has evolved into a highway, with a fast-track formula for those drivers with the talent and commitment. Season 8 was a perfect preparation and springboard for these drivers and I’m confident Season 9 will be even better for even more drivers, especially with the introduction of the new car.”
Boasting a completely redeveloped power train, the Porsche 911 GT3 Cup, ready to take to the circuits of the Middle East later this year, will house a 4-litre, six-cylinder flat engine with direct fuel injection delivering 485 hp. A range of innovative details also improve efficiency in addition to engine performance, ensuring even better durability of the naturally aspirated engine in racing mode and reduced maintenance costs.
A new front apron and a new rear end improve the downforce of the new 911 GT3 Cup and therefore enhance traction and performance. The prominent 184-centimetre wide rear wing has been retained from the predecessor model. The wheel dimensions are also unchanged: One-piece 18-inch racing rims with a central locking mechanism are used – with 270-millimetre Michelin racing slicks on the front axle, and a 310-millimetre tread on the rear axle. The intelligent aluminium-steel composite construction ensures maximum rigidity and a lightweight body. The new 911 GT3 Cup is ready to race weighing in at just 1,200 kilograms.
Without doubt, the opportunity to drive the new cars on tracks, such as Bahrain International Circuit, Dubai Autodrome and Abu Dhabi’s Yas Marina Circuit, will be a major attraction for international racers. When coupled with the strong, competitive showing of previous seasons and the growing global stature of the Middle Eastern racing scene, there are strong expectations that Season 9 of the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East could boast one of the largest grids assembled in the competitions’ history. Already Lechner Racing say interest is up for the next term, showcasing not only the excitement for the upcoming edition, but also the strong organisation behind a truly regionally run series which continues to flourish.
Walter Lechner said: “Season 8 was one of the closest competitions in recent years and has served perfectly as a catalyst for interest in the ninth edition, expected to get underway in the fourth quarter of this year. While the high standard of competition attracts racers from the Middle East and across the world, the chance to race the new Porsche GT3 Cup adds a new level of anticipation.”
Porsche manufactures the 911 GT3 Cup on the same production line as the 911 road car in its main plant in Stuttgart-Zuffenhausen. The basic race tuning is performed at the Weissach motorsport centre, where vehicles are also thoroughly tested by a professional race driver prior to delivery to the customer. Some 3,031 units of the 911 GT3 Cup have been built in the 996, 997 and 991 model lines since 1998. This makes the brand cup racing car from Stuttgart the most-produced and most-sold GT racing car in the world.
Lechner added: “The history of this car is incredible and it is the star of our series and the ultimate ingredient of what has been, and continues to be, a hugely successful formula. We’re closing in on a decade of the series, this will be nine years of nurturing young talent and offering gentleman drivers the race of their lives. Of course, we are proud of all that has been achieved but we are hungry to continue to give regional stars an opportunity to build their skills and maintain our important position as major pillar of Middle Eastern motor racing.”