UAE-based Bashar Mardini makes championship debut
Today’s opening race of Season 8 of the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East at the Bahrain International Circuit will welcome UAE-based driver Bashar Mardini onto one of the largest grids in the history of the series.
Season 8 is predicted to be one of the most open in the history of the series due to a truly international grid featuring an impressive 17 cars with drivers representing 12 different countries. A fact that underlines the global status and increasing appeal of the most professional motorsport championship in the Middle East.
Almost half of the drivers to line up will be completely new to the grid including Mardini with many of the newcomers travelling from across Europe for the opportunity to challenge the best racing talent in the region.
For Mardini, participating in the renowned series reflects a significant step up in level of competition. Mardini will start from 16th position on the grid in the first race of the new season.
Speaking ahead of his debut race Mardini said: “Things are going well and it was definitely good to get out on the track today for some practice yesterday. To be honest it has been a while since I have driven in a competitive championship like this, so the nerves are building ahead of the big race. I did ok in qualifying but I know every lap will be tough. There are a few tweaks that need to be made to the car but in general we are pretty much ready to go.”
Walter Lechner, the owner of Lechner Racing, and founder and manager of the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East added: “Bashar is a strong driver and I know he’ll do well. He has worked hard in preparation and is very focused on the task at hand. Hopefully he can relax and drive sensibly to bring the car home. There is a temptation to try and be bold in the opening race so other drivers can see your commitment. But that can be a bit short sighted. All the drivers on debut need to treat the race the same way and respect each other rather than engage in battles.”
“Looking ahead to the race this is exactly the type of grid we always wanted. One that is full of promise and a next generation of drivers from this region, racing against quality international drivers. I think we are at the start of a very special journey for motorsport in the Middle East. It has taken years of commitment, effort and support from many people to get this far but it’s worth it when you see the sheer excitement in eyes of our drivers and such a strong line-up.”
The diverse grid comprises of professional, amateurs and rookies from Ireland, Norway, Germany, Luxenberg, Sweden and Turkey will face stiff opposition from local drivers representing the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Qatar, Oman and Saudi Arabia.
The opening round of the six-round championship will feature two races this upcoming weekend. The first race will take place on Friday night, 18th November, under the lights at Sakhir in Bahrain, adding further to the drama of the occasion. The second race is scheduled on Saturday, 19th November.
With all drivers competing in identical Porsche 911 GT3 Cup cars, the one-make series will consist of 12 races between November 2016 and April 2017 over six pulsating weekends across three world class regional racing circuits, namely the Bahrain International Circuit, Dubai Autodrome and Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi.