Kuwait teenager star get to grips with Abu Dhabi circuit
Abu Dhabi – Kuwait rookie Zaid Ashkanani roared into action in Abu Dhabi as testing got under way ahead of Rounds 3 and 4 at the Yas Marina in the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East, the region's most exciting and professional race series.
Ashkanani, who finished fourth and sixth in the season's opening weekend, was part of a world-class line-up of 16 cars who took the opportunity to gain valuable track time on the iconic Yas Marina Circuit in preparation for qualifying on 7th December.
One of the strongest grids assembled in the history of the championship enjoyed four one hour long practice sessions as drivers got to grips with the 2.298 KM North Corkscrew track.
Ashkanani was pleased with his times in testing and intends to prove his outing in Bahrain was no fluke.
He added I am living my true dream and motorsport is my true passion. This is my second race weekend in my first year of driving professionally. I did great in Bahrain and this weekend I am confident that I will continue to exceed expectations. This is one of the strongest grids to ever line-up in the Middle East and I want to be amongst the leaders challenging for the podium."
Current championship leader Clemens Schmid arrived at the venue looking to make it three wins out of three and extend his six point lead from reigning champion Abdulaziz AlFaisal.
Looking back on his opening test sessions Schmid said: "Overall I'm happy with practise sessions. The Yas Marina Circuit has many corners, so you have to break a lot and that does not allow you to maintain a consistent speed to push on. But it was great being back on the track after a successful weekend in Bahrain. It will be interesting to see how it goes during the races as it will be very compact."
AlFaisal, who finished second and third respectively in Bahrain, echoed the Austrians sentiments and feels it will be a tough race.
"I can see it being a very tight race, with the amount of corners we have to counter, so it limits us from gaining momentum. It is great to be back on the track after Bahrain as I've some points to make-up. I am excited by the challenge ahead as the Yas produces exciting and challenging races," said AlFaisal.
The first female driver to race in the series, Denmark's Christina Nielsen, making her debut on the Yas Marina Circuit, said the track takes time to get used to.
"Visually it is a beautiful circuit to drive on. It has a lot of long straights, but it has some extremely tricky bends that you have to concentrate, adjust and not lose control. It requires a strong mind-set and concentration to approach", commented Nielsen.
Walter Lechner, Manager of Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East said: "It's fantastic to back at the scene of so many great motorsport moments from recent years. Everyone loves this place as it's a truly five-star facility and brings out the best in all our drivers. These are the times a racing driver lives for and the scene is set for an incredible race day in the capital on Friday."
Qualifying and racing for Round 3 and Round 4 of Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East are scheduled to take place on Friday 7th December at Yas Marina Circuit.