Schmid wins opening race in Round 2

Team Bahrain’s Salman bin Rashid Al Khalifa made a stunning return to the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East at the Dubai Autodrome after finishing third in the first of two races in Round 2.

The former champion of the most professional series in the region, making his first appearance since the opening round last season, pushed eventual winner, Al Nabooda Racings Clemens Schmid and second-placed Karim Al-Azhari all the way to claim a podium position on the 16-car grid.

Following his impressive performance Salman bin Rashid Al Khalifa said: “It was a breathtaking race and I am very happy to be back, adapting with the car was really fast which an amazing car is. I am happy to gain points for the team and be on the podium. I need to continue this momentum into today’s round and help our rankings in the Team title.”

Team-mate Mohammed Mattar had to withdraw after an on-track incident.

Reigning champion Schmid produced another blistering drive from pole to chequered flag and the 1-2 finish allowed Al Nabooda Racing to extend their lead in the race for the Team title.

While Schmid’s trademark quick start got him through the critical first turn ahead of the traffic, the real-action was behind him in an action-packed race, with two drivers not able to finish. Kuwait’s Zaid Ashkanani, starting third on the grid, retired on the first lap, truncating his impressive start to the fifth season.

The battle to finish in the top six was intense. Starting 8th on the grid, Faisal Binladen fought his way to fourth position on the first lap, overtaking Christina Nielsen and team-mate Abdulaziz AlFaisal. With seven laps to go AlFaisal regained fourth position where he finished, with Binladen in fifth and Skydive Dubai Falcons Sheikh Hasher Al Maktoum claiming sixth.

After the race, Saudi Falcons driver AlFaisal said: “It was a good race and I gave it all that I could, making sure I stayed out of trouble. I saw the guys ahead battling it out for a while but as the race went on they settled into their positions and it was always going to be an uphill battle for me to catch them. After what wasn’t a great qualifying session I’m reasonably happy with making up a number of places – it just shows the benefits of pushing as hard as you can right up until the end.”

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