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New Porsche 911 GT3 Cup set for global debut in regional series

The fifth season of the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East was officially inaugurated today at the Bahrain International Circuit (BIC), promising even more absorbing race action and the debut of the new generation Porsche 911 GT3 Cup.

An unprecedented 20-car line-up for the opening rounds spanning eleven nations, including elite drivers from the UAE, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Lebanon and Bahrain take control of the stunning all new 911 GT3 Cup. The new car is introduced to a regional race championship for the first time anywhere in the world.

Regarded as the purest form of racing, featuring past champions, veterans and home-grown emerging talent, the fifth season will once again tour the regions iconic circuits over 12 intense rounds as drivers compete head to head for the individual and team titles.

The hugely anticipated opening rounds of the Middle East’s only professional race series will take place at Bahrain’s Home of Motorsports, the BIC, on 29th and 30th of November 2013 during the prestigious World Endurance Championship weekend.

Speaking at the press conference to launch the series, Walter Lechner, Manager of the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East, said: “Over four years ago Porsche had an ambitious vision to establish a truly professional race series for the Middle East. A championship created to inspire a new generation of Arab racing drivers while opening up the world of motorsport.

“Today marks a defining moment as the Porsche vision has become a reality. A world-class championship now proudly exists featuring the best drivers and real rivalries. We have a series that offers a competitive motorsport experience like no other in the region.

“Looking ahead to the new season the strength and depth of the talent on the grid from around this region is remarkable. When you combine such fearless drivers with the introduction of the new generation 911 GT3 cup this championship is guaranteed to be the best yet.”

Reigning champion Clemens Schmid will once again be the driver to catch. He can expect to face tough competition from two-time winner Abdulaziz AlFaisal, team-mate Karim Al-Azhari and up-and-coming stars like Bahrain’s Mohammed Mattar, Faisal Binladen, Zaid Ashkanani and the only female on the grid, Denmark’s Christina Nielsen.

This season will also see Skydive Dubai Falcons making their debut in the series and flying the flag for the UAE, alongside Al Nabooda Racing. Sheikh Hasher Al Maktoum and Saeed Al Mehairi will be hoping to make an impact and provide reigning Silver Michelin category champion Binladen a stiff challenge.

Commenting at the launch, home-grown talent, Mohammed Mattar said: “It is always an honour to race on home territory and for the season to start here. All the drivers are looking forward to tomorrow and getting down to business. I want to get the campaign off to a great start and replicate my performance from last season in Round 11 and 12.”

Commenting on the launch of the fifth season in Bahrain, BIC Chief Executive Shaikh Salman Bin Isa Al Khalifa, said: “The Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East is a testament to the growing motor racing culture in the region. It is the ideal platform for rising stars to learn the trade and evolve their careers further. Each season it has grown and is now the leading series. We are privileged to hold the opening and closing races when the anticipation and excitement is at its peak.”

A pure-bred sports car that has set new performance records, the new 911 GT3 Cup features a 3.8-litre flat-six engine producing 460hp. For the first time ever, the car comes with a newly developed Porsche six-speed sequential gearbox with an electro-pneumatic paddle shift system making gear changes even faster. The result: one of the most iconic and successful race cars in the world just got even quicker.

Competition across all four race categories including overall driver standings, Silver Michelin, Mobil 1 Bronze and team titles are expected to be more intense than ever with several teams and individuals fighting for honours. After securing victory in the Bronze category last season, Manfred Ender will be looking to defend his title while Team Title holders Al Nabooda Racing can expect a tough challenge from the likes of Saudi Falcons, as both teams look to cement their status as the region’s premier crew. 

The 2013/14 schedule is confirmed as:

Round 1 and 2

Bahrain International Circuit

29 & 30 November 2013

 

Round 3 and 4

Dubai Autodrome

12 & 13 December 2013

 

Round 5 and 6

Losail International Circuit

17 & 18 January 2014

 

 

Round 7 and 8 

Losail International Circuit

31 January & 1 February 2014

 

Round 9 and 10

Dubai Autodrome

14 & 15 February 2014

 

Round 11 and 12

Bahrain International Circuit

7 & 8 March 2014

 

Photo caption

Image 1 – (Left to Right) - Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East Manager Walter Lechner and BIC Chief Executive Shaikh Salman Bin Isa Al Khalifa at the launch of the fifth season

Image 2 - (from left to right) Team Bahrain Mohammed Mattar, Al Nabooda Racings Clemens Schmid, Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East manager Walter Lechner, BIC Chief Executive Shaikh Salman Bin Isa Al Khalifa, Saudi Falcons Abdulaziz AlFaisal and Skydive Dubai Falcons Sheikh Hasher Al Maktoum at the launch of the fifth season.

Image 3 – Team Bahrain set for fifth season of Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East

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