Team Bahrain duo get to grips with Abu Dhabi circuit
Abu Dhabi – Team Bahrain duo of Mohammed Mattar and Raed Raffii roared into action in Abu Dhabi as testing got under way ahead of Rounds 3 and 4 in the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East, the region's most exciting and professional race series.
The Bahraini duo were part of a world-class line-up of 16 cars with drivers spanning eleven nations, took the opportunity to gain valuable track time on the iconic Yas Marina Circuit in preparation for qualifying racing on 7th December.
One of the strongest grids assembled in the history of the championship enjoyed four one hour long practice sessions as drivers got to grips with the 2.298 KM North Corkscrew track.
Mohammed Mattar, who finished seventh in Round 2, believes he can eclipse his previous outing in the series.
Mattar said after his testing said: "I believe I have the capabilities to move up a couple of places here. I have had good race pace in testing and if I can push myself a bit more during the races, there is no reason why I can't move up the points table."
Raed Raffii, who is replacing his brother Faisal for Rounds 3 and 4, said he was honoured of representing his country at the series.
He said: "I am really happy to be here and racing at this fantastic circuit. It is a great honour to be representing Bahrain in this championship and I hope I can help Mattar gain some valuable points towards the Team title."
Current championship leader Clemens Schmid arrived at the venue looking to make it three wins out of three and extend his six point lead from reigning champion Abdulaziz AlFaisal.
Looking back on his opening test sessions Schmid said: "Overall I'm happy with practise sessions. The Yas Marina Circuit has many corners, so you have to break a lot and that does not allow you to maintain a consistent speed to push on. But it was great being back on the track after a successful weekend in Bahrain. It will be interesting to see how it goes during the races as it will be very compact."
AlFaisal, who finished second and third respectively in Bahrain, echoed the Austrians sentiments and feels it will be a tough race.
"I can see it being a very tight race, with the amount of corners we have to counter, so it limits us from gaining momentum. It is great to be back on the track after Bahrain as I've some points to make-up. I am excited by the challenge ahead as the Yas produces exciting and challenging races," said AlFaisal.
The first female driver to race in the series, Denmark's Christina Nielsen, making her debut on the Yas Marina Circuit, said the track takes time to get used to.
"Visually it is a beautiful circuit to drive on. It has a lot of long straights, but it has some extremely tricky bends that you have to concentrate, adjust and not lose control. It requires a strong mind-set and concentration to approach", commented Nielsen.
The youngest driver on the grid, Kuwaiti rookie Zaid Ashkanani, who performance impressively on his debut in Bahrain said: "I am living my true dream and motorsport is my true passion. This is my second race weekend in my first year of driving professionally. I did great in Bahrain and this weekend I am confident that I will continue to exceed expectations. This is one of the strongest grids to ever line-up in the Middle East and I want to be amongst the leaders challenging for the podium."
Walter Lechner, Manager of Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East said: "It's fantastic to back at the scene of so many great motorsport moments from recent years. Everyone loves this place as it's a truly five-star facility and brings out the best in all our drivers. These are the times a racing driver lives for and the scene is set for an incredible race day in the capital on Friday."
Qualifying and racing for Round 3 and Round 4 of Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East are scheduled to take place on Friday 7th December at Yas Marina Circuit.