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Skydive Dubai Falcons soar on home ground in Round 5 of Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East

It was a weekend to remember for Skydive Dubai duo Sheikh Hasher Al Maktoum and Saeed Al Mehairi as the pair secured back to back podiums in Round 5 of the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East at the Dubai Autodrome. Meanwhile Al Nabooda Racing lost ground in the individual and team championship after their star driver Clemens Schmid didn’t feature in Race 2.

Following on from Al Mehairi’s 2nd place finish in yesterday’s Race 1, Sheikh Hasher Al Maktoum’s sensational star saw him move from 9th position in the grid up to 3rdwithin the first few laps of Race 2. The Emirati driver oozed with confidence as he pushed past two-time former champion Abdulaziz Al Faisal to the podium place, his team mate Al Mehairi finishing fifth.

With Clemens Schmid banned for Race 2 after being found guilty of causing an accident due to dangerous driving in Race 1, the results of Round 5 see Skydive Dubai Falcons close the gap to second placed Saudi Falcons in the team standings. Just 10 points separate second and third overall in the team title with Saeed Al Mehairi moving up to 5th in the drivers’ championship with Al Maktoum 4th.

Speaking after his 3rd place finish in Dubai, for which he was awarded the rookie of the year trophy, Al Maktoum said, “I am really happy with the result this weekend. Round 5 has been a great team victory for us with Saeed doing well yesterday and me getting the podium today. It was not an easy race but after starting 9th I don’t think I could have done any better than finish 3rd and it’s given us a good lift in the team standings. Now the hard work really begins as it’s not long until Bahrain and as we’ve seen this weekend, anything can happen in motorsport.”

For Al Nabooda the weekend did not go as planned as they had hoped to wrap up at least one of the team or drivers’ championships in Dubai. With the final Round of the season just a few weeks away Schmid said, “I accept responsibility for what happened in Race 1 and I have to live with the consequences. Now the focus is on Bahrain and doing everything I can to secure the title there.”

Leading Race 2 of Round 5 in Dubai from pole to chequered flag the revelation of the 2013/2014 season, Zaid Ashkanani looked safe in front despite being pushed all the way by Fahad Algosaibi of Saudi Arabia. The young Kuwaiti had an excellent start on the clean side of track which helped him on his way to victory, and to the top of the drivers’ standings.

The drama behind was mainly restricted to the opening laps with Saudi Falcons’ Abdulaziz AlFaisal jumping up a position from 4th to 3rd while Salman Bin Rashid Al Khalifa dropped down to finish 6th. Producing one of the drives of the weekend was Skydive Dubai Falcons’ Sheikh Hasher Al Maktoum who was pushed on by the cheers from his home crowds. Starting 9th on the grid the Emirati driver had shot up to 4th by the lap 3 and proceeded to pile the pressure on AlFaisal who was forced into giving up his spot, eventually finishing where he had started in 4th.

Al Maktoum’s team mate Saeed Al Mehairi also made the best of a few errors making his way past Al Khalifa and Christina Nielsen to finish 5th while Al Nabooda’s Karim Al Azhari was unable to hold on to his 5th place qualification and ended the race in 7th just ahead of Faisal Binladen of the Saudi Falcons.

The Dubai round was always going to be one of the most exciting of the season but no one could have predicted just how close weekend would become. The implications in the drivers’ standings have been huge with the series now set to go down to the very last race in Bahrain next month.

After taking maximum points in Race 2, Zaid Ashkanani has leapfrogged Clemens Schmid into first in the drivers’ championship and opened up a 3 point gap over his Al Nabooda rival; Ashkanani on 199. Schmid’s lack of points from the weekend has also allowed two-time former champion Abdulaziz AlFaisal to draw level on 196.

With one round to go the thrilling Dubai weekend results mean the championship title cannot be decided until the final race of the series - Round 6, Race 2 - with 25 points available for first place in Race 1 and 25 points available in Race 2. Second place in each race will pick up 23 points, third place 21 points and fourth place 19 points.

It’s a case of as-you-were in the team standings with Al Nabooda Racing staying on top but losing ground to the Saudi Falcons who have cut the gap from 49 points to 21. Third place Skydive Dubai Falcons have also reduced the distance between them and second place from 16 to 10.

The Dubai weekend results have set up the most grand of finales with the region’s most professional racing series set to come to a thrilling climax at the Bahrain International Circuit for Round 6 on the 7th and 8th of March.

Overall championship standings after Race 1 Round 5 – Top 6

 

Name

Country

Team

Points

1st

Zaid Ashkanani

Kuwait

Buzaid GT

199

2nd

Clemens Schmid

UAE

Al Nabooda Racing

196

2nd

Abdulaziz AlFaisal

KSA

Saudi Falcons

196

4th

Hasher Al Maktoum

UAE

Skydive Dubai Falcons

166

5th

Saeed Al Mehairi

UAE

Skydive Dubai Falcons

147

6th

Karim Al-Azhari

UAE

Al Nabooda Racing

140

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

 

Name

Country

Points

1st

Al Nabooda Racing

UAE

341

2nd

Saudi Falcons

KSA

320

3rd

Skydive Dubai Falcons

UAE

310

 

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