AlFaisal looking forward to Round 6 of Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East
Saudi Falcons Abdulaziz AlFaisal finished second in Round 5 of the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East at the Dubai Autodrome and maintained his overall lead in the region's most exciting and professional race series.
After starting second on the 15-car grid in one of the strongest grids ever assembled in the history of the series, AlFaisal was unable to overhaul eventual winner, Al Nabooda's Clemens Schmid, who won the race with a five second gap.
The Saudi was embroiled in a battle for second place with Schmid's team-mate, Karim Al-Azhari on the 5.390 KM Autodrome circuit. Despite losing the runners-up position in the opening laps, AlFaisal showed his class to overcome the threat of the Dubai-based driver to canter home with a huge gap.
An upbeat seconded placed AlFaisal said: "I started second and finished second so it wasn't too bad. But I had an awful start and made the same mistake as Clemens on the first corner. By the time I recovered I'd lost three places but fought back. It took me a few laps to get past Karim (Al-Azhari) and by the time I did Clemens was clear. I recorded the fastest lap of the race so I'm going to be pushing hard tomorrow for Round 6."
AlFaisal' s team-mate, Faisal Binladen, who started seventh on the grid, produced a fantastic drive in the opening laps of the race, at one stage in third position ahead of his team-mate. He was in contention for a podium finish but was involved in a collision with Kuwait's Zaid Ashkanani, and lost his momentum to finish in sixth position.
With the series heading into the winter break following tomorrow's Round 6, the result means Abdulaziz leads in the championship standings with 117 points, Schmid in second on 103 points and Al-Azhari in third on 96 points after 5 Rounds of the region's most exciting race series.
Having blown away the field with a victory by 5:502 seconds over AlFaisal, a delighted Schmid: "The only time I was in trouble out there was on the very first corner. I didn't realize just how slippery it was out there. After surviving that scare I managed to build up a good gap and with 5 laps to go I was able to save tires. It ended up being a fairly easy win in the end.
"I love this track. It is my favourite in the region. Karim made it easier for me by battling with AlFaisal. While them two were fighting it out, it gave me the opportunity to extend my lead over AlFaisal and cruise to victory. But I expect AlFaisal to be back tomorrow and give me more of a challenge," added Schmid.
The impressive display by Dubai-based Schmid on what is considered his home track in the Middle East resulted in the real battle being for second place. For much of the early race UAE's Karim Al-Azhari held onto second before AlFaisal passed him at the midway point. Once into second the Saudi driver could not narrow the gap on Schmid despite his best efforts.
It was a disappointing day for UAE's only racer Al-Azhari who finished third on the track but was imposed a 20 seconds penalty following a jump start, resulting in a 7th place finish for the Al Nabooda driver. Despite the penalty Al Nabooda Racing maintained their lead over Saudi Falcons by 8 points and Team Bahrain by 25 points in the overall team standings.
The surprise of Round 5 saw a hugely encouraging performance by the Team Bahrain who won the Team Title category thanks to the individual performances of Raed Raffii and Mohammed Mattar.
Raffii, starting fifth on the grid, overcame a stiff challenge from Faisal Binladen to claim his first podium finish in the championship securing third. Meanwhile, team-mate Mattar produced a sensational drive to finish fourth after starting eleventh on the grid.
The Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East Team Standings after Round 5 are: 1st Al Nabooda (199 points) 2nd Saudi Falcons (191 points), 3rd Team Bahrain (174 points).
Season 4 of the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East continues in the United Arab Emirates with Rounds 6 scheduled to take place at the Dubai Autodrome on the14th December 2012.