Reigning Champion AlFaisal wins Rounds 3 in Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East at Yas Marina
Abu Dhabi – Reigning champion Abdulaziz AlFaisal has won Round 3 of the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East at the Yas Marina Circuit with a dominant performance against one of the strongest grids ever assembled in the history of the series.
After starting in second position on the 16-car grid, AlFaisal driving for the Saudi Falcons produced a faultless race to take maximum points on the North Corkscrew track, seeing off challenges from UAE's Karim Al-Azhari, who finished second and teenage sensation Zaid Ashkanani from Kuwait in third.
A thrilled winner AlFaisal said: "The race planned out how I expected it to. It was a tough competitive race until Schmid pulled out. I expected him to push me all the way and I enjoyed it. Victory is always sweet when you have a tough challenge."
"I am looking forward to Round 4, where I expect a similar challenge, but anything can happen in motor-racing," added AlFaisal.
Showing all the class of a two-time series champion, AlFaisal managed to use his experience to muscle past home favourite Karim Al-Azhari of Al Nabooda Racing in the opening laps on the tight circuit.
Once in the lead AlFaisal was hotly pursued by a charging Clemens Schmid, the current championship leader, but the race ended in disappointment for the young Austrian. Having overtaken his Al Nabooda team mate Al-Azhari, Schmid managed to pass AlFaisal briefly before being forced to retire on lap 20 when a gearbox linkage failed.
With clear track ahead and behind, AlFaisal comfortably extended his lead and set the quickest lap-time of the round, 55.856 seconds, in the process. He finished 7.955 seconds over second placed Al-Azhari and moved into the lead on the overall championship standings.
Satisfied with his second place finish having started the race in pole, Al-Azhari said: "I am very pleased to have landed second position on home territory in my first race with the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East at the Yas Marina. It was a tough race. The configuration of the circuit is very demanding on the drivers. I had a good start, but made a mistake at the end of lap one where I expected more heat on my tyres."
"After that I just maintained my position throughout the race and got the podium position I targeted before the race. Hopefully I can repeat the performance for Round 4," he added.
Kuwait's eighteen year old, Zaid Ashkanani, making his debut at the Yas Marina Circuit replicated his stunning drive in the opening rounds in Bahrain by securing his first podium in the championship by securing third place.
An ecstatic Ashkanani said: "I felt I did really well today. There was a lot of action in the front of the grid from the very start and it was a very tough throughout the race. In the end I managed to get onto podium to collect a third in the overall championship, which is incredible. I did well in Bahrain and so far have managed to maintain that same level of performance at the Yas Marina Circuit. Hopefully I can get a results like this in Round 4."
Proving to be the region's most exciting and professional race series yet again, an action packed race unfolded filled by fierce head to head midfield battles. In the race for fourth place Bahrain's Mohammed Mattar took the chequered flag ahead of team mate Raed Raffii in fifth, with Saudi Falcon's Faisal Binladen completing the top six positions.