Schmid 1st, Ashkanani 2nd and Al Maktoum 3rd
Bahrain’s Mohammed Mattar finished fifth in in the second race of the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East at the Bahrain International Circuit, in a race won by reigning champion Clemens Schmid
Starting tenth on the grid in the 50th race of the series, Mattar produced a quality drive in an action-packed encounter, fighting his way through a tough midfield battle to finish in the top six.
Following his fifth-place finish, Mattar said: “Overall I’m happy as I had a very bad start but recovered well to get myself into the top five. I know I am strong enough to always to be pushing for a podium place so I hope for ever better results in Dubai. I am proud of my performance for Team Bahrain.”
Following his victory by 8.4 seconds Schmid said: “It has been a perfect start and sets me up nicely for the remainder of the season. The conditions were tough with a slippery track but I felt I was in full control of the race and accelerated from the field.”
In a comfortable win for Schmid the real drama came with three laps to go when Skydive Dubai Falcons star Al Maktoum overtook last season’s runner-up Abdulaziz AlFaisal of the Saudi Falcons and Germany’s Hubert Haupt to finish third.
Following a fantastic debut weekend al Maktoum said: “It has been a brilliant weekend for me and the team. The conditions were really difficult but I managed my tyres well. In the first five laps I wanted to keep control of my position and then push the drivers in front of me. I saw the opportunity to overtake Haupt and Abdulaziz. It is amazing that I have my first podium and help the team with valuable Team title points for Skydive Dubai Falcons.”
The fight to complete the top six witnessed numerous changes in position with some thrilling overtaking. Al Nabooda Racings Karim Al-Azhari, starting fifth on the grid, was in a fight to finish in the top six throughout the race as young hot-shots Bahrain’s Mohammed Mattar, Skydive Dubai Falcons Saeed Al Mehairi and Christina Nielsen pushed the experienced Dubai-based driver all the way.
Suffering from the track conditions-Azhari dropped five places in the final four laps. First Team Bahrain’s Mattar and then Denmark’s Christina Nielsen, who finished the race fifth and sixth reeled in the Al Nabooda driver. The action continued into the final lap as AlFaisal spun letting Skydive Dubai’s Al Mehairi take advantage to secure seventh place. Charlie Frijns, who starting last on the grid showing his fighting qualities and pace soaring through the field to finish ninth.
In an intense weekend opening weekend, the first race of the season was also won by Schmid. After securing pole position, the Dubai-based driver continued the form that won him the championship with victory as rising-star Ashkanani came in second and Karim Al-Azhari third.
Season 5 of the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East continues in the United Arab Emirates with Race 3 and Race 4 scheduled to take place at Dubai Autodrome on the 12th and 13th December 2012.