Kuwait’s Zaid Ashkanani to feature in opening race of Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East Season 9
Ashkanani is best known for his breakthrough performance in Season 6 of the series when he clinched the drivers’ title to become the youngest ever winner of the championship on a dramatic final day. But the Kuwaiti star has not featured in the region’s most professional and successful one-make series since he completed Season 7 in second place in 2016.
After racing for full two seasons in Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East, Ashkanani’s motorsport career accelerated onto the international stage thanks the valuable experience gained under the watchful eye of series founder and manager Walter Lechner.
In 2015 he participated in the FIA GP3 Series and then spent two seasons racing in prestigious Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup across Europe. Now Ashkanani will return, to a warm welcome and familiar faces in Bahrain, the place his career all started from.
Ashkanani will race in the DHL sponsored car and join the most international grid in the history of the series with nine different nations represented by drivers from Germany, Great Britain, Netherlands, Sweden and South Africa as well as local stars from the Middle East region representing Bahrain, Oman and Saudi Arabia.
The much-anticipated return of Ashkanani coincides with the introduction of the brand new Porsche 911 GT3 Cup to the region for the first time. The latest edition of the world’s best-selling race car features a four-litre, six-cylinder flat engine with direct fuel injection, delivering 485 hp and the expectation of quicker lap times than ever before.
Speaking ahead of his special return to racing in the region, Zaid Ashkanani said: “I really can’t wait to get back and experience this championship again. It holds so many special memories and really helped to launch my career. I went from being a young rookie to become a real driver and learnt so much so quickly. I also made many close friends who have continued to support me no matter where or when I have raced so it will feel like I’m coming home.
“I’m a stronger driver now but so is the championship. It’s really gone from strength to strength and that’s what makes it extra exciting to return, as specially as part of the FIA World Endurance Championship weekend. I’m sure the new breed of young stars like Al Faisal Al Zubair of Oman, Saudi Arabia’s Fahad Algosaibi and Qatar’s Charlie Frijns will make getting onto the podium very tough.”
The series was the first and remains the only regional championship backed by a manufacturer in the Middle East, and Season 9 will set even higher standards as founder and manager Walter Lechner of Lechner Racing commented: “This championship has evolved into something that is truly special and offers an unrivalled experience for all. It has stood the test of time and has a legacy to be proud of. But I believe with a new car and such a diverse group of drivers, our future is even brighter than our past. To add the quality of Zaid back to race as a guest for the opening round speaks volumes of what this series means to him. We have a truly global footprint and family of drivers all ready to race and hone their skills in the Middle East. I’m sure the new drivers and Zaid will relish every moment and we look forward to welcoming them.
“It really is the pinnacle of racing in the Middle East and a breeding ground for the sport at an international level.”
The Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East will consist of six race weekends with 12 races over a period of six months. Drivers will compete across the region with confirmed circuits including Dubai Autodrome, Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi and Bahrain International Circuit.
The championship starts on 17th November in Bahrain as part of the FIA World Endurance Championship weekend at the Bahrain International Circuit and come to a thrilling conclusion by supporting official 2018 Formula 1 Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix weekend.