New Porsche 911 GT3 set for global debut in regional series
After first testing of the region’s most exciting and professional race series, the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East, last season’s team champions Al Nabooda Racing have shown they remain a force to be reckoned with ahead of this weekend’s action in Bahrain.
Despite finishing in second place behind his rival Abdulaziz AlFaisal in both testing sessions, defending champion Clemens Schmid will take confidence from his performance with the series’ opening weekend set to get underway at the Bahrain International Circuit on Friday.
For Schmid, previous experience of the new Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car was a key factor in his impressive lap times, “I had a full season with the new car in the Supercup so I am aware how it drives. It is a very fast car but we need to find the right balance for it in Bahrain.”
Last weekend also saw the impressive arrival of Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East debutants Skydive Dubai Falcons, the UAE team’s Sheikh Hasher Al Maktoum setting the fifth fastest time in the second session. The notable pace bodes for the future of the Dubai outfit comprised of Sheikh Al Maktoum and Saeed Al Mehairi, who have worked their way up through the ranks of the regional motorsporting scene.
The Dubai Falcons Racing team was first formed in 2010 before attracting the investment of Sheikh Hamdan Bin Mohammed Al Maktoum, Crown of Dubai, which saw the outfit renamed the Skydive Dubai Falcons. Since then the Emirati team have established a strong reputation as highly competitive regional racers and are aiming to put up a stiff challenge to even the most deep-seated series contenders
As one of those contenders, Al Nabooda’s Schmid is hopeful of keeping his seat at the top of the table, “I’m feeling very optimistic ahead of the opening round and have found a good balance so far. We will work on a couple of strategies through the week that we can also implement; hopefully they will come off and I can get my title defence off to a winning start.”
Official practise and qualifying for the new season will get underway at the Bahrain International Circuit (BIC) on the 28th of November ahead of the opening rounds the following day, with the stunning all new Porsche 911 GT3 Cup making its debut in a regional race championship for the first time anywhere in the world.
After last weekend’s introduction, this Friday in Bahrain is set to give the Skydive Dubai Falcons their first race opportunity against teams already familiar with the competition. For Sheikh Hasher Al Maktoum, the series represents an exciting challenge, “It was great to be out on the track and to get a feel for the new car. The new paddle system makes shifting much quicker and gives us more time to focus on the driving techniques such as maximising grip and sticking to the racing lines. This feature is sure to make the battle between the drivers even more exciting for the fans.”
Looking back on the testing session and forward to the season ahead Saeed Al Mehairi added, “It was our first outing in the competition and I was reasonably happy with the times posted but there is plenty of room for improvement. Our aim is to lead both the Rookie series and the Silver Michelin category and I think we’re on track for that. However, the series will be a steep learning curve and there is a lot of work that can be done. Meeting the other drivers has been fantastic; we’ve all been sharing experiences and data which has shown us exactly what we need to be working on.”
Regarded as the purest form of racing the new season with a new look promises to be the most exciting yet. Once again all drivers will be competing in identical Porsche 911 GT3 Cup over 12 rounds of racing between November 2013 and March 2014. Six intensely competitive race weekends will once again be hosted at the region’s leading circuits in Bahrain, United Arab Emirates and Qatar.
The new 911 GT3 Cup is set to be the real star of the new season. A pure-bred sports car that has set new performance records the car features a 3.8-litre flat-six engine producing 460hp. For the first time ever it 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 the most iconic and successful race cars in the world just got even quicker.
Created to encourage Arab talent and offer a platform into the world of international GT and sports car racing, the one-make GT series has already proved vastly popular amongst local drivers. The championship is based on the highly successful Porsche formula for one-make series racing the challenge gives every driver an equal chance to compete, racing in identically constructed Porsche GT3 Cup cars.
For the full race schedule, driver profiles or latest news on GT Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East please visit the official website: www.gt3me.com or follow series’ news at www.facebook.com/porscheGT3CCME or on Twitter @PorscheGT3CCME.