Saudi’s Bandar Alesayi secures second place in silver category
Saudi driver Bandar Alesayi topped off an impressive season of competition with a second place position in the silver category. The seasoned driver missed out narrowly on winning the category after a thrilling season long battle between himself and young Omani driver Al Faisal Al Zubair.
For Alesayi the last race of the series didn’t go the way he had hoped. After an amazing start, which saw the Saudi driver fly into third place, the slightest contact with another car in the opening turn meant that due to radiator damage he was forced to retire early on.
Speaking after another successful season and a rollercoaster of a final race weekend Bandar Alesayi said, “Today didn’t go the way I wanted it to at all. I have been really looking forward to this weekend and ended up only being able to complete half a lap. I had a really strong start and overtook two cars early on. I was in front of Al Faisal Al Zubair and knew that if I could stay there I could potentially win the silver category. After the first turn I was in third place but then had a small contact with Ryan Cullen, unfortunately the contact was on the radiator side, which is the most delicate part of the car. The radiator was damaged which meant I couldn’t continue and had to come into the pits and that was the end of my race.
“I still managed to finish second in the silver category, and it has been a great battle all season between myself and Al Zubair. He really deserves the win in the category and is a perfect example of what this series can do for young talented drivers. I’m excited for where I will be racing next and hopefully I can come back next year and continue to push for the gold category and a championship win.”
Thousands of fans had enjoyed a thrilling encounter that saw a battle unfold over ten laps of breath-taking action, all moments before the stars of the Formula 1 took to the track for the 2017 Formula 1 Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix.
At the chequered flag only 2.3 seconds separated a breakaway group of the top four drivers, condensing the series into a single race with Cullen determined to stamp his authority on the season and reign supreme in the showpiece event.
It was a fitting finale to the most competitive season in the eight year history of the championship and a perfect advertisement for the pure one-make racing that only Porsche offers drivers in the Middle East region.
Final race victory was a dream ending for champion Cullen. After dominating the season the Irishman completed a wonderful weekend, taking his overall tally of eight wins in the season.
Speaking as champion Cullen said: “I sealed the championship yesterday but it feels so good to finish the season with a win. There was less pressure today and I wanted to be able to go out and enjoy myself. I didn’t have the best of starts but after turn one I managed to keep the pressure on both Dylan and Charlie in front of me. I waited patiently as I didn’t want to do anything too silly but as soon as I saw my opportunity I made a move and managed to overtake both cars at the same time.
“It’s been a special weekend for me, I started my championship here in November with a win and now I’ve finished on the top step again 5 months later. I’m going away from the Middle East with huge confidence and will be looking to make the most of this form in Europe this summer.”
The final race once again proved just how competitive the Porsche GT3 Middle East Cup Challenge has become with every point hard earned between the best drivers in the region. Right from the opening lap Cullen’s rivals showed they wanted to have the final say of Season 8 and lay down a marker for Season 9. It would be no victory parade.
Pereira sprinted into an early lead on the opening corner overtaking Frijns and building a lead over the first three laps. But a blistering first sector of lap four saw Cullen rocket into the lead and push Pereira into second and Frijns third were they crossed the finish line.
Every driver in every category had a reason to push for points in the final race including the Bronze category, again showing the competitive nature of the championship. Home-grown teenage talents of Isa S. Al Khalifa who finished second in the bronze category and second in the GCC Rookie Category, just ahead of teammate Isa A. Al Khalifa who was the third placed rookie.
Just as the dust settles on the final round of season 8 following an incredible climax, already plans are well in motion for Season 9 of the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East.