Reigning champion fastest on day two of Bahrain pre-season testing
Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East's official pre-season testing continued for a second day on Thursday at the Bahrain International Circuit (BIC) with last year's champion Abdulaziz AlFaisal setting the fastest time.
Seventeen drivers continued to put mileage on their GT3 Cup car with four one hour practice sessions, as they get used to the track and continue their build-up to the opening race weekend on the 16th and 17th November.
Reigning champion AlFaisal, who started testing only today, immediately signalled his intent to defend his title with the day's fastest time of 1:06.891 minutes.
AlFaisal, who was happy with his day's work, stated:"Today got better and better so I've now got a good base set-up for the race. It's a short track; qualifying is important and when racing you can't afford any mistakes out there. Every year the standard gets higher, all drivers are improving so I know if I'm to defend the championship, I'll need to push as hard as I can right from day one."
Runner-up on the second day of testing was Bahrain's former champion Salman bin Rashid Al Khalifa, who returned after a year's break to show his class with a lap time of 1:06.991 minutes. He was closely followed by Austrian Clemens Schmid, who had a time of 1:06.824 minutes.
Looking back on his second day testing, Al Khalifa was happy with his excursion. He said: "It was a great day's work all round for the Bahrain team, and especially for myself. My primary focus is on guiding the younger drivers but overall I am happy with my performance.
"We are focused on what we have to do in the qualifying and the first race of the season. It will be very competitive with a bigger grid, but we have to stay ahead of the pace. Team Bahrain would like to thank Crown Prince of Bahrain for his continued support and giving us the opportunity to participate in the series."
Kuwaiti teenage sensation Zaid Ashkanani, who is making his series debut in Bahrain, produced an impressive time of 1:07.740 minutes, featuring well inside the top ten. Christina Nielsen, the first female driver to race in the series, produced another promising performance of 1:07.740 minutes, complementing her first day showing.
Ashkanani, the youngest driver on the grid, said on his first official testing in Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East: "I'm very happy with my performance today and I think I showed everyone my potential and what I'm capable of, if I continue to work hard and focus on the race in the moment. I cannot wait till tomorrow's qualifying and race; hopefully everything will go well and I'll be able to make my family friends and the fans proud of me."
Denmark's Nielsen said a lot of consideration has to be taken into account when negotiating the inner circuit at BIC: "Technically the track has a lot of chambers which affect the stability of the car, so it's a major consideration from the drivers to take into account."
She added: "The track is much shorter than those in Europe but you're able to generate a lot of good corner speed to shoot out onto the straights. One of the challenges that make this track unique is that the last corner has what's known as a blind angle, where you can't visually place the entry point so you have to rely on keen intuition and experience."
Fastest Laps – Second Day Pre-season testing – Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East
- Abdulaziz AlFaisal (KSA), Saudi Falcons -1:06.778
- Clemens Schmid (Austria), Al Nabooda Racing - 1:06.824
- Salman bin Rashid Al Khalifa (Bahrain), Team Bahrain -1:06.991