Schmid 1st, Ashkanani 2nd and Al-Azhari 3rd

Kuwait’s Zaid Ashkanani finished second in the opening round of the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East at the Bahrain International Circuit, in a race won by reigning champion Clemens Schmid.

After starting second on the 20-car grid, Ashkanani kept his position throughout the race in a valiant effort to close down Schmid and also seeing off the challenge from Al Nabooda’s Karim Al-Azhari.

Starting and finishing in second place for the first time in his career and finishing Ashkanani said: “It is a great feeling. It is definitely the highlight of my career so far and I am proud of my achievement. The plan was to maintain my position throughout and try and close Schmid down. He got off to a great start and accelerated from the field.”

Following his victory Schmid said: “It is the perfect start to the season and the defence of my title. I have good experience of driving on this track and I know the new car very well. I used them to my advantage and took full control of the race.”

In an race that introduced the stunning new generation Porsche 911 GT3 Cup in a regional race championship for the first time anywhere in the world, Schmid showed the class and composure of a reigning champion.

In an absorbing race that saw drivers try to lay a platform for the rest of the season, Al Nabooda’s Al-Azhari battled hard to reach the podium ahead of Skydive Dubai Falcons debutant Sheikh Hasher Al Maktoum. In finishing third Al-Azhari also collect valuable team points, in their quest to defend the Team title.

Finishing fourth Skydive Dubai Falcons Al Maktoum showed his potential claiming the ‘Rookie of the race’, while last season’s runner-up and two-time champion Abdulaziz AlFaisal finished fifth. The top six was completed by Team Bahrain’s Mohammed Mattar.

Round 2 will take place tomorrow in Bahrain at 12.05pm, where Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East will be celebrating its 50th race at the Bahrain International Circuit.

Due to early morning conditions and the cancellation of Round 2 qualifying, the grid will assemble as per Round 1 qualifying with the top six positions as follows: 1 – Clemens Schmid, 2 – Zaid Ashkanani, 3 – Abdulaziz AlFaisal, 4 – Hasher Al Maktoum, 5 – Karim Al-Azhari, 6 – Saeed Al Mehairi.

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