Ashkanani seeks improvement after disappointing result in Round 8 in Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East at Reem Circuit

Kuwait’s Zaid Ashkanani will be looking for a dramatic improvement in the next rounds of the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East after finishing thirteenth in Round 8 at the Reem International Circuit.

The 18-year old, starting fifth on the 15-car grid could not replicate his form from previous rounds as he was consistently overtaken in a race packed with incident on the 17-lap 3.2 KM Reem International Circuit and eventually finished second to last in a race comfortably won by Al Nabooda’s Clemens Schmid. 

The teenager is hoping to put the performance behind heading into the next round of races. He said: “I was expecting to perform a lot better in Round 8 and bring back the form I have shown in previous races. But I got involved in a few incidents throughout the race and did not recover from them. But I hope this is a one-off and I can bring back my performances and start all over again.”

Schmid once again produced another textbook race, seeing off challenges from Saudi Falcons Faisal Binladen and Mohammed Mattar to claim maximum points and overtake Abdulaziz AlFaisal in the overall championship standings.

Having registered a victory of 2.354 seconds over Binladen, an ecstatic Schmid said: “It is a great feeling to win back-to-back races in Reem. The victory means I am leading in the championship standings with four rounds to go and hopefully I can keep hold of top spot. Even though it was comfortable for me, the real action was at the back, with positions changing regularly in the final few laps.”

With reigning champions Abdulaziz AlFaisal failing to finish Round 8 following a high-speed incident, the result means Schmid has now overtaken Saudi Falcons AlFaisal in the overall driver standings with 178 points. Following a disappointed weekend on his home circuit, AlFaisal moves down to second place, 6 points behind with 172 points and UAE’s Al-Azhari of Al Nabooda maintains third position on 142 points after eight rounds in the Middle East’s most exciting race series.

As with the previous rounds qualifying, the big guns were once again overwhelmed by the youngsters. With Schmid taking up his customary position on the front of the grid, Fahad Algosaibi, son of Fawaz, produced a stunning section of racing that defied his teenage years to start second on the grid, with Saudi Falcons Faisal Binladen, who recorded his first podium of the season in Round 7, in third. Once again Abdulaziz started fourth on the grid with Ashkanani in fifth and rookie Charlie Frijns in sixth.

Schmid started just as he had finished Round 7, once again dominating the race from pole to the chequered flag, without being tested by those fighting for second place including Algosaibi, Binladen and Abdulaziz. With Schmid winning easily, the pulsating action further down the field saw Binladen show all his skills, courage and local knowledge to secure second place.

The battle for the final podium position changed regularly, with Fahad Algosaibi leading for the majority of the race, until an incident with home favourite Abdulaziz knocked him down the pecking order, which enabled Karim Al-Azhari to take the position. But the Al Nabooda Racing driver could not hold onto it for long as Team Bahrain’s Mohammed Mattar overtook him in the closing stages of the race to claim the final podium.

With two second-places during the race weekend in front of his adoring fans, Binladen was happy with his weekend’s work. He added: “I am very happy with my performances this weekend. I have performed consistently throughout but could not overtake Clemens who was very fast in this race. Starting third on the grid, I overtook Fahad in the first corner but the gap created by Schmid was too big to reduce.”

Despite leading in third position for the majority of the race, Algosaibi had to settle for seventh place, with Manfred Ender claiming his first top six by finishing fourth, Hannes  Waimer claimed fifth and Charlie Frijns finished in sixth.

The Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East championship standings after Round 8 are: 1st Clemens Schmid (178 points), 2nd Abdulaziz AlFaisal (172 points), 3rd Karim Al-Azhari (142 points), 4th Faisal BinLaden (129 points) and 5th Zaid Ashkanani (119 points)

The Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East Team Standings after Round 8 are: 1st Al Nabooda (320 points) 2nd Saudi Falcons (301 points), 3rd Team Bahrain (261 points).

Season 4 of the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East returns in Qatar with Rounds 9 and 10 at the Losail International Circuit on 8th and 9th March 2013.

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