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Superb Al Attiyah shows his class in UAE debut of Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East

Qatar’s racing hero Nasser bin Saleh Al Attiyah has continued his dream star to a new found track career claiming a silver category win on his UAE debut race performance in the Porsche GT3 Cup Middle East Challenge.

The proud Team QMMF (Qatar Motor & Motorcycling Federation) driver made it three podiums and three silver category trophies in as many races, delivering on his promise to use his natural race instinct during Round 5 of the championship at Dubai Autodrome. 

It was a deserved result for Al Attiyah who finished tenth overall, having put in long hours to get as familiar as possible with his Porsche GT3 Cup car and the challenging 5.39KM Grand Prix Circuit layout in Dubai in recent days.

Speaking after his hat-trick of silver categories and an ever expanding trophy haul, Al Attiyah said: “Overall I am very happy. Today was my first race on a track outside of Losail in Qatar and I managed to secure a win in my category and get back of the podium. This track is technical and requires a lot of experience. I’m still learning with each lap. I’m getting more comfortable in the car but I felt I had good pace.

“I’d a few mistakes out there as this is still complete new to me but I will now sit with my mechanics and figure out what is the best setup for the car. There is a lot of work to be done for race two tomorrow. It’s a new race and a new day so I’ll try for a strong qualifying position.”

He added: “The Dubai Autodrome circuit is a one-way track. Everyone is fighting to stay on the perfect line as you cannot use the second line much. Overtaking is not easy to here. But with the right preparations I hope to get even higher in the race positions.”

Sharing the limelight with Al Attiyah the overall race result saw Saudi Falcons Abdulaziz AlFaisal (1st) and Skydive Dubai Falcons Saeed Al Mehairi (2nd) steal the show to take the gold category podium places alongside Saudi driver Fahad Algosaibi (3rd).

In a memorable race in front of thousands of Porsche 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. 

A slight collision with AlFaisal and then a second red flag incident involving Bandar Alesayi 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. 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 .

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.

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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