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Saudi’s Abdulaziz AlFaisal and Algosaibi swoop onto the podium at Dubai Autodrome in Round 5 of Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East

Saudi Falcons Abdulaziz AlFaisal (1st) and Skydive Dubai Falcons Saeed Al Mehairi (2nd) stole the show to take the podium alongside Saudi driver Fahad Algosaibi (3rd) at the Dubai Autodrome in the opening racing of Round 5 in the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East.

In a memorable race in front of thousands of fans AlFaisal recorded his first win of the fifth season, overtaking local favourite Al Mehairi with one lap to go in a gripping encounter that was filled with excitement on every lap. 

Round 5 had been billed as a defining moment in the championship and it didn’t disappoint. Right from the start the action came fast and furious as the man to beat Dubai based Clemens Schmid was forced to withdraw. The championship leader and defending champion had a day to forget after a second lap collision gave his rivals the opportunity to take full advantage and narrow the gap.

The gap between Al Nabooda’s Schmid and his rivals is expected to be reduced further after Race 2 in Dubai on the news that Schmid faces a one race ban and will not feature again in Round 5. Officials declared in the track incident involving Saudi’s Bandar Alesayi on the second lap Schmid ‘caused an accident through dangerous driving.’

As a result the race for the driver title has been thrown wide open in spectacular fashion. It’s a huge boost for current second placed driver of the Saudi Falcons Abdulaziz AlFaisal and third placed Zaid Ashkanani of Kuwait who both know that finishing in the top two positions in Race 2 will see them leapfrog Schmid with only one round to go in Bahrain. The intriguing three-way fight for the championship has had a dramatic twist in Dubai. 

During the opening race a slight collision with AlFaisal and then a second red flag collision ended the race for Schmid and led to a restart. Once underway for the second time Al Mehairi was aggressive and seized control of the race from the front, despite the constant pressure from AlFaisal.

With an unlikely victory in sight, Al Mehairi made a minor mistake on worn tires at the end of the back straight with one lap to go and provided an opening for AlFaisal. It was the gap former champion AlFaisal had been waiting for and he instantly slipped past Al Mehairi to take the chequered flag.

Having enjoyed the top step of the podium AlFaisal said: “It was a very tough race and very satisfying at the same time. At this point in the season there is a lot of tension and the grid this year is very tight with little between the drivers. There was quite a bit of contact at the start and we lost a couple of drivers but that’s racing. I managed to keep myself safe.

“At the restart, Saeed did very well to get ahead and showed great composure for most of the race, especially when still a rookie and I am delighted that he has claimed his first podium. Today I just stayed patient and it paid off. This result could be crucial come the end of the season. ”

The result sees the gap at the top of the overall standings narrow to just 19 points as AlFaisal (177) moves into second place ahead of Zaid Ashkanani (174) who is 22 points behind Schmid (196), with 75 points on offer and three races of the season left .

Following his first Porsche podium a thrilled Al Mehairi of Skydive Dubai Flacons said: “This is the best moment in my driving career. To finish second, make the podium and get important points for the team, all at a home race in Dubai is incredible. Obviously part of me is disappointed to not win, when I was leading for 90% of the race but Abdulaziz (AlFaisal) put me under real pressure.

“I’ll take a lot from this race though. I started fifth and finished second. I was aggressive from the start. It’s a great feeling but there will be no partying tonight. The real work starts again now with the mechanics as I want to be back on the podium again tomorrow. I think I can still get quicker.” 

The podium was completed by talented youngster Fahad Algosaibi of Saudi Arabia who continued the form which saw him finish second in the last race at Losail International Circuit for Round 4. Starting fourth on the grid, Algosaibi showed all his youthful exuberance and growing reputation to push champion drivers all the way and claim consecutive podiums.

A delighted Algosaibi said: “It was one of the toughest races I have been involved in and thoroughly enjoyed it. The drama was intense but great to be involved. There was action everywhere and I had to make sure that I kept away from all the incidents and concentrate. I wanted to build on from Qatar and finish as high as possible and claiming a podium is a fantastic.”

In the midfield tussle for the top 6 places Charlie Frijns, Zaid Ashkanani and Skydive Dubai Falcons Sheikh Hasher Al Maktoum went head to head with places constantly changing on each lap. In the end Frijns secured fourth, Ashkanani fifth and Al Maktoum sixth. 

Elsewhere Al Nabooda Racings Karim Al-Azhari who started ninth on the grid improved by two places to claim important points in his team’s quest to defend the Team title as Al Nabooda continue out front. While Qatari motoring legend Nasser Al Attiyah impressed again winning Silver category in tenth overall. 

The region’s most professional racing series continues at the Dubai Autodrome with the second race of Round 5 tomorrow, Saturday 15th February at 15:55.

Overall championship standings after Race 1 Round 5 – Top 6

 

Name

Country

Team

Points

1st

Clemens Schmid

UAE

Al Nabooda Racing

196

2nd

Abdulaziz AlFaisal

KSA

Saudi Falcons

177

3rd

Zaid Ashkanani

Kuwait

Buzaid GT

174

4th

Hasher Al Maktoum

UAE

Skydive Dubai Falcons

145

5th

Karim Al-Azhari

UAE

Al Nabooda Racing

135

6th

Saeed Al Mehairi

UAE

Skydive Dubai Falcons

130

Overall Team Title standings after Race 1 Round 5 – Top 3

 

Name

Country

Points

1st

Al Nabooda Racing

UAE

327

2nd

Saudi Falcons

KSA

288

3rd

Skydive Dubai Falcons

UAE

272

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