Team Bahrain duo produce respectable performances in Round 7 of Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East
Team Bahrain duo of Raed Raffii and Mohammed Mattar produced respectable performances in Round 7 in the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East at the Reem International Circuit.
Raffii and Mattar overcame a strong midfield battle for supremacy to finish fifth and seventh respectively to claim valuable points for the team in a race which was won by Al Nabooda Racings Clemens Schmid.
Raffii, starting seventh on 15-car grid, overcame a tight midfield battle with Kuwait’s Zaid Ashkanani and UAE’s Karim Al-Azhari, as he overtook the duo at the mid-way point on the 17-lap 3.2KM Reem International Circuit to claim finish in the top six.
His team-mate Mattar, who started ninth on the grid overtook Ashkanani in the early stages of the race to claim seventh position.
Team Bahrain’s Raffii said after his Round 7 performance: “I did not have a good qualifying round as I wanted to start higher up grid, and from there challenge for a podium position. Throughout the race I was playing catch-up and had a real battle with Zaid and Karim. I am looking for an improved performance in Round 8 and hope to be challenging for podium.”
The young Austrian of the Dubai based team grabbed maximum points, seeing off challenges from arch rival and reigning champion and current championship leader Abdulaziz AlFaisal of the Saudi Falcons who finished second and his team mate Faisal BinLaden in third.
The result means Schmid has narrowed the gap in the overall driver standings to just ten points. AlFaisal remains the current leader of the championship with 163 points, Schmid in second on 153 points and Al-Azhari in third on 132 points after seven rounds of the region’s most exciting race series.
Having recorded a comfortable victory by 0.672 seconds over AlFaisal, a jubilant Schmid said: “It was a fantastic race for me as I held my position from start to finish. I knew Abdulaziz was going to be in contention and once he overtook Binladen early in the race I knew he was going to push me hard. But I knew if I can hold my lead in the opening lap, I will win the race.”
The start of the Reem Rounds started in stunning fashion in qualifying when the big guns were overpowered by the new generation. While Schmid was in familiar territory, Faisal Binladen produced his fastest laps of the season to start second on the grid, while teenager Fahad Algosaibi, in his one-off race weekend, defied the pecking order to start third on the grid. Reigning champion Abdulaziz AlFaisal was pushed down to fourth.
After fighting his way back into contention and the battle for first, AlFaisal in front of his adoring fans to secure second place, reigning champion AlFaisal said: “I believe I drove a good race, and am happy where I finished in the end. I knew once I overtook Faisal I could put pressure on Clemens and I had an opportunity in the middle of the race to overtake him but made a small mistake which cost me first place. But I will be back tomorrow and ensure I don’t make the same mistakes I made today.”
Amidst the sandy dunes local favourite Faisal BinLaden was more than content to have gained a podium finish for the first time this season after starting second on the grid and finishing third behind teammate and friend Al Faisal.
With the top-three almost sorting themselves out, the battle to complete the top six was just as pulsating. Fahad Algosaibi, unsettled the order of play by producing a stunning performance to finish fourth and Karim Al-Azhari in sixth on a disappointing day the UAE’s Al Nabooda driver.
The Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East championship standings after Round 7 are: 1st Abdulaziz AlFaisal (163 points, 2nd Clemens Schmid (153 points), 3rd Karim Al-Azhari (132 points).
The 2nd and 3rd place finishes for the Saudi Falcons duo has added pressure on Al Nabooda in the fight for the team title. The Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East Team Standings after Round 7 are: 1st Al Nabooda (285 points) 2nd Saudi Falcons (269 points), 3rd Team Bahrain (233 points).
Season 4 of the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East continues in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia with Round 8 scheduled to take place at the Reem International Circuit on 7th February 2013 at 5pm KSA time.