Mattar set for bright future in Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East after runners-up spot in Silver Michelin category
The fourth season of the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East finished recently with one of the most exciting races in the history of the series at the Bahrain International Circuit as Team Bahrain’s Mohammed Mattar clinched second in the Silver Michelin Category.
For Team Bahrain it was a fitting finale to the 2012-13 championship having performed admirably throughout the 12 action-pack races and across six weekends on five of the region’s leading circuits between November 2012 and March 2013.
Created to inspire a new generation of Arab racing drivers and offer a platform into the world of international GT and sports car racing, the one-make series has already proved vastly popular amongst local drivers such as Mohammed Mattar who regards the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East as the best run championship in the region.
The fourth season of the Porsche GT3 challenge continued to produce fierce rivalries throughout the grid and truly unpredictable results. Since all drivers compete in identical Porsche 911 GT3 Cup cars, the bestselling sports car in the world, the, winning and losing once again came down to driver skill.
Over the 12 rounds it was Al Nabooda Racing’s Clemens Schmid who proved most skilful and unstoppable in earning his first championship win by managing to overcome the challenge of defending champion Abdulaziz AlFaisal of the Saudi Falcons.
Equally impressive were the feats of the completely newly established Team Bahrain formed to proudly represent the Kingdom of Bahrain. Throughout the season Team Bahrain regularly secured finishes amongst the top six positions. The best local drivers of the country formed a talented line-up, including 2010-11 championship winner Salman bin Rashid Al Khalifa and European circuit veteran Jaber bin Ali Al Khalifa.
Yet it was young Mattar in his first season of competitive racing who gained most praise by producing a number of outstanding results to finish fifth in the overall championship standings and runner-up in the Silver Michelin category, 16 points behind eventual winner Saudi Falcon’s Faisal Binladen.
Walter Lechner, Manager of the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East, said: “Mohammed Mattar and Team Bahrain should be thrilled by the results they achieved in their debut championship. Mattar was one of the most consistent drivers on the grid and showed great maturity as the 12 rounds progressed.”
“Mattar was regularly amongst our quickest drivers as proven by his two third place finishes which were exceptional. To reach the podium on the final weekend of the series at his home circuit when the pressure was really on showed his potential and exactly why he could be in the running for the title in the future,” added Lechner.
Mohammed Mattar said: “It was a fantastic experience and I exceeded all my expectations. Finishing in third place twice was an obvious highlight but I am proud of the way I improved with each race and put pressure on Binladen in the Silver Michelin category. We are a young team here in Bahrain and we can only get better. Looking ahead we aim to challenge the top three in the overall championship standings. I’m already looking forward to the 2013/14 season.”
Four young guns from the series, Saudi Falcon’s Binladen, Team Bahrain’s Mattar, Kuwait’s Zaid Ashkanani and the first female to race in the championship, Christina Nielsen, contended for honours in the Silver Michelin category.
The most experienced driver from the quartet, Faisal Binladen, recovered from a slow start to claim a second and third place finish in Rounds 7 and 8 on his home circuit at Reem to take control and eventually win the category. He displaced the sensation of the season, 18-year-old Ashkanani, who led the standings for the first six rounds.
Team Bahrain’s Jaber bin Ali Al Khalifa was encouraged by the team’s performance. He said: “The team excelled in all departments. They are learning with each race and are hungry for more success. We will take the lessons from this year and come back even stronger next season.”
“Clearly the championship has a bright future in the region and here in Bahrain. We have proven that we have a number of talented drivers and I can definitely see competitive motorsport becoming more popular in the country. There is nothing like it for those who enjoy pure racing,” added Jaber bin Ali.