UAE’s Bashar Mardini aims for podium finish as Porsche GT3 Cup Middle East Season 8 finale draws near
The UAE’s Bashar Mardini has been reflecting on his first full season of competition in the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East, as he looks at learnings from previous rounds as the key to his success in the upcoming finale of Season 8.
After ten races across six months and three of the region’s most famous racing circuits, the final round of Season 8 is closing in and the Middle East’s top motor racers have their sights firmly set on the championship silverware. For Bashar Mardini the upcoming weekend will be a huge occasion on top of what has been one of the most competitive editions of the series ever, especially in his silver category.
Across the weekend of the 15th and 16th of April the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge will roll into Bahrain where Round 6 will take on the role of support race for the 2017 Formula 1 Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix weekend.
The added theatre, excitement and attention of Formula 1 is something Mardini hopes to use as motivation, not a distraction, “I’ve been thinking about it every day and I can’t wait to be immersed in that atmosphere of motorsport. It’s a legendary race especially for the region but I have to channel that enthusiasm into results on the track if I want to get that podium spot in the final standings.”
After a tough start to his season back in November, Mardini (95) has shown consistent improvements across the competition, finding a rhythm to his driving which has seen him rise to fourth in his class. The impressive feat for a local driver in his first full season is brought sharply into focus by the racers he’s been up against. In what is one of the tightest conclusions to a season ever, series veteran Bandar Alesayi (157) of Saudi Arabia leads the field by just one point over the Season 8 star from Oman Al Faisal Al Zubair (156). The competition between the two has delivered some thrilling results across the previous five rounds with expectations high that Round 6, in the cauldron of a Formula 1 weekend, could be the spectacular conclusion regional racing fans have been hoping for.
However, with Alesayi and Al Zubair out of reach in first and second, Mardini has his sights are set on Wolfgang Triller (130) and the third place in the table he currently holds. With a maximum of 50 points available to the overall winner of Races 1 and 2 of the upcoming Round 6, there is hope for the UAE racer in his goal of securing a landmark podium finish in his full season.
Mardini said, “I feel like my progress this season has been immense and that’s come from time on the track which is a hallmark of this series. I had a rough start in Bahrain in Round 1 but have bettered that performance in almost every race with Race 1 of Round 3 in Dubai a standout result for me. That really gave me some confidence and I’ve been looking to replicate that performance as often as possible. Having the Lechner Racing team around me, passing on their knowledge and analysis has been key and I’m looking forward to getting back in the car especially as it will be in one of the biggest weekends of racing in the regional calendar. What I’ll really be focusing on is drawing on my experiences across the past few months. We’ve spent countless hours in the cars, understanding them, perfecting techniques so I need to be able to draw on that in the big moment of the final round.”
Drivers spanning more than ten nations, including host nation Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia are expected to line up next month and enjoy the racing experience of a lifetime as part of the Bahrain Grand Prix weekend. Competing across multiple categories and over the challenging 5.4km GP circuit at Sakhir, the Middle East’s top drivers will line up in front of passionate racing fans, and from behind the wheel of the powerful Porsche 911 GT3 Cup for what is set to be a thrilling conclusion to Season 8 of the series.
The involvement of the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East in the Bahrain Grand Prix weekend is a huge boost for local motorsport with some of the best regional drivers being given a rare opportunity to showcase their talents while sharing the stage with the current stars of Formula 1. The race not only sees an emotional return for competitors to the Bahrain International Circuit, the home base for Lechner Racing, but also the region’s top drivers playing a leading role in one of Middle East motorsport’s biggest events.
Races 1 and 2 of Round 6 of Season 8 will be as support races at the 2017 FORMULA 1 GULF AIR BAHRAIN GRAND PRIX weekend on the 15th and 16th of April 2017.