Schmidt strikes double victory with second straight win of Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East Season 7 in Bahrain
An invincible drive by Jeffrey Schmidt of Al Nabooda Racing secured the second race win in as many starts to ensure a perfect start to Season 7 of the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East at the Bahrain International Circuit.
Making his official race debut for Al Nabooda, Schmidt maintained his 100% winning record, claiming victory by a winning margin of 4.513 seconds over Ryan Cullen of Ireland. Cullen finished in second with the final place on the podium going to Al Nabooda teammate, Zaid Ashkanani who finished third.
There was further positive news for the UAE at the start of the new season. Emirati drivers Sheikh Hasher Al Maktoum and Saeed Al Mehairi of Skydive Dubai Falcons captured fourth and fifth respectively, keeping the pressure on rival Al Nabooda Racing in the race for the team title.
Speaking after his second win Jeffrey Schmid said: "I'm absolutely delighted with the result. It literally couldn't have been any better this weekend. I managed to get a bit of a lead and created a gap on Cullen but the safety car bunched us all together again. I got a bit nervous at that point but managed to bring it home. The team has worked really hard and it was great to have Zaid (Ashkanani) on the podium beside me celebrating a great opening weekend for Al Nabooda Racing."
The second of the twelve-race championship was held around the 5.4km Grand Prix circuit at Sakhir as part of the prestigious FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) final round. It was a huge contrast to the opening round a day earlier, despite the repeat result from Race 1 for Schmidt in first and Cullen in second.
Drivers fought for position throughout an action packed 12-lap race as those holding onto fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh places interchanged regularly. Even the appearance of the safety car with three laps remaining did little to dampen the excitement. The midfield dogfight was finally settled on the last lap with Skydive Dubai Falcons duo of Al Maktoum fourth, Al Mehairi fifth and Qatar's Charlie Frijns in sixth.
Overall it was another strong showing for all four of the UAE drivers once again finishing within the top six, offering much hope for the season ahead.
Speaking after his solid performance Sheikh Hasher Al Maktoum of Skydive Dubai Falcons said:
"Today was important for me and for the Skydive Dubai Falcons team. The race went really well and overall I'm pleased with fourth. It was a shame not have made the podium but at the same time it was vital to grab all the points I could and not make any mistakes. There were a few close encounters, even with my teammate, but we kept it clean and to have us both on the podium means we are close to our biggest rivals and closest neighbours."
Race 2 witnessed another impressive grid of 15 drivers from 8 different nationalities with a mix of seasoned veterans, emerging talent and two championship debutants, namely teenager Isa Al Khalifa of Team Bahrain and young protégé Saud Al Faisal of Saudi Arabia.
Regarded as the purest form of racing with all drivers competing in identical fifth generation Porsche 911 GT3 Cups, the unique one-make series will consist of 12 races between November 2015 and March 2016.
Looking ahead the drivers will now travel to Al Reem International Circuit in Saudi Arabia for the first time in two years, in early December. Three UAE rounds in a row will kick start the New Year across January and February before the return to Bahrain for the climactic conclusion to Season 7 in early March.