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Team Bahrain’s Mohammed Mattar looking for home comfort in final rounds of Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge in Bahrain

Team Bahrain’s Mohammed Mattar is targeting a strong season finale on home soil after finishing seventh in Round 10 of Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East at Losail International Circuit.

Starting eight on the 15-car grid, Mattar moved into seventh position in the early stages of the race, but got not break into the top six, in a race won by Al Nabooda Racings Clemens Schmid.

The Bahraini driver, currently in fifth position in the championship standings, moved ahead of Zaid Ashkanani in the Silver Michelin category, by two points.

Speaking after Round 10, Mattar said he is looking for a strong finish to the season on home soil. He added: “I was happy with my performances in Qatar. I am second in the Silver Michelin category and hopefully if things go my way In Bahrain, I can overtake Faisal Binladen. I am confident I can do it, but this is motor sport and anything can happen.”

Mattar’s Bahrain team mate Jaber Al Khalifa continued to impress on his return to racing, managing to secure his second podium in two races with a solid performance finishing in third place in the Bronze category. 

Schmid once again drove an authoritative race to go 10-points clear of Saudi Falcons Abdulaziz AlFaisal with two rounds to go.

The fight for supremacy began with the top two being separated by Lechner Racings Markus Pommer, who started second on the grid, while Abdulaziz began Round 9 third on the grid. Teenage rookie Charlie Frijns was the surprise package of the qualifying rounds as he started fourth on the grid, pushing Saudi Falcons Faisal Binladen into fifth with Kuwait’s Zaid Ashkanani in sixth.

In an action-packed night-time race, where three drivers were forced out of the race in the first lap, Schmid was never threatened by Abdulaziz and Pommer as he accelerated his lead with each lap and marched on to claim his seventh victory in nine rounds by 7.815 seconds. With the top two sorting themselves out, Pommer and Saudi Falcons Faisal Binladen were engrossed in a battle to claim the third podium position.

Speaking after securing his victory in Round 10 by 1.941 seconds, Schmid is confident he can hold onto his slender lead. He added: “Today was a really hard race, tougher than yesterday. Abdulaziz didn’t make it easy and was close behind the hold race until he made one small mistake.

“I’m very happy to have pulled out a 10 points lead with only two rounds of racing left of the season. But the title is still not safe and it only takes one mistake. At least I know I don’t have to win the races, just stay ahead of Abdulaziz. So the pressure is on him now.”   

An optimistic Abdulaziz said he is confident of success in Round 10 and putting pressure on Schmid. He added: “I am pretty happy with my performance. I started third on the grid and finished in second position. Obviously you want to win the race but there is plenty to play for in the coming rounds. I have the belief that I can turn things around, starting in Round 10.”

Starting second on the grid, Pommer lost his position in the early stages of the race to Binladen, but regained it at the halfway stage of the 12-lap race to claim third place. The battle to complete the top-six was just as pulsating with Al Nabooda Racings Karim Al-Azhari, Binladen, Bahrain’s Mohammed Mattar and Ashkanani battling for positions.

UAE’s Al-Azhari produced a fantastic final lap to overtake Binladen and Ashkanani to claim fourth place, with Binladen seeing off the challenge of Ashkanani to finish fifth, while Mattar jostled with the Kuwaiti and piped him into sixth place.

A disappointed Binladen said: “For the first half of the race, I was in a perfect position to finish in the top three, but Pommer was far too quick for me and overtook me to claim third. Then I was involved in a midfield battle with Al-Azhari and Zaid. It was very tight between the three of us, and Karim used his experience to overtake us and claim fourth position. It was not what I expected in this race, so I am determined to produce the goods in Round 10.”

The Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East championship standings after Round 10 are: 1st Clemens Schmid (228 points, 2nd Abdulaziz AlFaisal (218 points), 3rd Karim Al-Azhari (180 points).

The Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East Team Standings after Round 10 are: 1st Al Nabooda (404 points) 2nd Saudi Falcons (379 points), 3rd Team Bahrain (311 points).

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