Ashkanani returns to the podium by clinching third as teammate Schmidt wins Race 2 of Round 2 at the Al Reem International Circuit
Kuwait's Zaid Ashkanani clinched third place and valuable points his team Al Nabooda Racing after reaching the podium in Race 2 of Round 2 in Season 7 of the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East.
Ashkanani performance capped an outstanding weekend for Al Nabooda racing as teammate and championship leader Jeffrey Schmidt finished with another landmark victory to extend his winning streak to four straight wins in four races.
Despite losing out on second place to Ireland's Ryan Cullen, Ashkanani will be extremely pleased with his overall contribution to the team over the weekend as he settles back into Porsche GT3 Cup racing following his exploits in the FIA GP3 series.
The talented Kuwait is now third in the overall driver standings with the race result in Saudi mirroring the positions. Ryan Cullen is in second place overall with 86 points. Ashkanani is third on 82 points only 4 points behind. Thanks to the race victory of Schmidt and Ashkanani's strong support, Al Nabooda Racing have now increased their lead in the team championship to 45 points with 182 points in total going into the winter break. The second placed team is defending champions Skydive Dubai Falcons on 137 points.
Following his third place finish in Saudi Arabia Zaid Ashkanani added:
"Unfortunately I had a really bad start which saw me lose my position straight away. Skydive Dubai Falcons Hasher Maktoum was putting a lot of pressure on me from behind but I managed to finish in third place. It's not what I wanted, but at the same time it's not bad. I just have to work even harder now ahead of the next race over the winter break as I really want to challenge for the drivers title. I can perform at my best I will help the team even more."
In a repeat of the opening race Schmidt blazed from pole position on the grid following an outstanding qualifying session to take the chequered flag and top place on the podium unchallenged. The newcomer to Al Nabooda Racing has once again underlined his title winning pedigree securing the win over seventeen laps by a gap of 1.515 seconds to extend his lead in the overall driver standings to 14 points.
Ireland's Ryan Cullen followed Schmidt over the line in second place. There was further good news for the UAE as Skydive Dubai Falcons driver Saeed Al Mehairi advanced from fifth on the grid to finish fourth, just outside the podium places. Elsewhere Qatar-based driver Charlie Frijns was fifth and Saudi's homeland favourite Abdulaziz AlFaisal sixth.
Speaking after the race win and a dream debut weekend in Saudi Arabia, a delighted Jeffrey Schmidt of Al Nabooda Racing said:
"The race was really sandy. It was definitely one of the toughest races I have had. The first couple of laps were very difficult as the pressure from the pack behind meant there was no room for any mistakes. The first lap was hard as there was no reference point which meant I had to concentrate and drive really well. I am very happy with first place, it's good for me personally in the championship and it's a great team win as well. It's been four races and four wins, but the other drivers are getting closer and closer so I definitely need to work hard to stay in front."
The championship now heads into a winter break before resuming in the UAE for three back to back rounds to kick start the New Year across January and February, closely followed by the return to Bahrain for the climactic conclusion to Season 7 in early March.
Regarded as the purest form of racing with all drivers competing in identical fifth generation Porsche 911 GT3 Cups, the unique one-make series will consist of 12 races between November 2015 and March 2016.