Team Bahrain duo get back into action at Reem International Circuit
Team Bahrain duo of Mohammed Mattar and Raed Raffii got back into action in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia as testing got under way ahead of Rounds 7 and 8 at Reem International Circuit in the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East, the region’s most exciting and professional race series.
The Bahraini duo, part of one of the strongest grids in the history of the championship, took to the 3.2 KM circuit for the first time after the winter break with four one-hour practice sessions.
Raffii, who won a podium position in Round 5 at the Dubai Autodrome, was happy with his outings as he looked to boost his confidence ahead of this weekend’s action and was happy with the condition he encountered on the circuit.
Raffii said: “The conditions were perfect for me today. Even though there was not much grip on the tyres due to sand on the circuit, I enjoyed the fast pace of the circuit as it suits my style. I believe I am in good shape to produce two good rounds of racing.”
Mattar echoed his team-mates sentiments, but is targeting points to push his team higher up the Team title standings.
He added: “We need two good rounds of racing if we are to win the Team title. The conditions suit our style of driving with the way the circuit is laid out, with fast straights, so I do not see no reason why we should not have a successful weekend.”
Home favourite and current championship leader, Abdulaziz AlFaisal arrived at the venue looking to extend his small lead over Austrian Clemens Schmid, who won back-to-back rounds, the last time the leading one-make series was in action in Dubai.
Looking back on his opening test sessions AlFaisal said: “The conditions were tough today. There was no grip on the tyres due to sand on the circuit. It is a tough circuit but one the drivers will enjoy because of the long and windy straights, which allows you to maintain a consistent speed. But it is great to be back in action after a seven week lay-off. If the conditions remain the same, I expect two very interesting but tough rounds.”
The youngest driver on the circuit and one of the finds of the season, Kuwait’s Zaid Ashkanani, was excited with his first outing on the circuit despite the sandy conditions which meant the drivers did not have a good grip.
The 18-year-old, currently in fourth position, shared the views of other drivers as far as the track was concerned. He added: “It is by far the fastest track we have raced on this season. The sandy conditions will make it a tough race as we do not have the grip on the tyres that we would like, but I am assured that I will produce two quality rounds of racing to push me higher up the championship table.”
Walter Lechner, Manager of Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East said: “It is great to be back after the winter break and I believe we will witness one of the closest championship finishes in the history of the series. It is moments like this that drivers practice hard and come into motorsport. With over 10,000 spectators expected for both days, we are in for two fantastic races this weekend.”
Qualifying and racing for Round 7 of the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East are scheduled to take place on Wednesday 6th February at Reem International Circuit.