Team Bahrain duo make strong comeback in Round 6 at Dubai Autodrome
Team Bahrain duo of Mohammed Mattar and Raed Raffii made solid comebacks in Round 6 of the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East at the Dubai Autodrome to finish in the top ten.
With Raffii starting 11th on the grid and Mattar 13th on the 15-car grid, the duo had their work cut out if they were to replicate their performances in Round 5, in a race won by Al Nabooda Racings Clemens Schmid.
The duo battled their way through the midfield in front of a large crowd at Autodrome with Mattar finishing in sixth position and second in the Silver Michelin category, while Raffii crossed the line in eight position.
A buoyant Mattar said: "To start in 13th position and finish in sixth is a fantastic finish to a great weekend for me. We changed our strategy from qualifying and it worked perfectly for me and the team."
A satisfied Raffii said: "I had to drive very aggressively. I had to take some risk throughout the race and thankfully they worked. That is motor racing and why this series is one of the best. You are never guaranteed anything and have to work hard for it."
Schmid and Abdulaziz AlFaisal, driving in front of a large crowd at the Autodrome, produced one of the closest finishes in the season so far with only 0.262 seconds separating the fiercely competitive racers.
The result in Round 6 means Al Faisal heads into the winter break leading in the championship standings with a 12 points lead on 140 points, followed by Schmid in second place on 128 points and Karim Al-Azhari in third on 117 points after six rounds of the fourth season in the region's leading –one-make series.
It was a flawless performance by Schmid, showing true grit and complete composure which may prove decisive in the overall championship as the drivers head to Saudi Arabia for Rounds 7 and 8 of the season.
Dubai's double winner Clemens Schmid said: "It was a really tough race. A lot tougher than yesterday as Abdulaziz was always in my slip stream. The car was perfect and I just focused on not making any mistakes. That was real racing and it came down to the wire. That's what I love about the series it's all down to the driver. I'm pleased to get two wins here but I'll need to keep pushing and will aim for wins at the Reem Circuit as still 12 points behind at the half way stage. It's a big gap but I feel I can close it"
Although the winner and second placed drivers in Round 6 were identical to Round 5 a day earlier, the two races shared no resemblance with a charging AlFaisal relentless in his pursuit of Schmid throughout. Driving the identical Porsche 911 GT3 Cup it was pure Porsche racing and motorsports at its finest with Saudi's AlFaisal having to settle for second place.
After finishing second in consecutive rounds, AlFaisal said: "Clemens did not give me a chance throughout the weekend. He gave one of his best performances this season but I am happy with the way we set up but the main advantage for Clemens was starting on pole position. Importantly I'm still ahead in the championship. I will continue to fight really hard and next up is my home race weekend at Reem. So there is a lot to be positive about."
Karim Al-Azhari made it an almost perfect weekend for Al Nabooda, after finishing in third place. Having collected valuable points for the team, Al-Azhari was pleased he redeemed his error in Round 5, when he was penalised for jump-starting on the grid.
In the battle for the top six positions, last season's championship runner-up Bander Alesayi made a guest appearance in Dubai and finished in fourth, Kuwaiti teenager Zaid Ashkanani finishing in fifth position. Team Bahrain's Mohammed Mattar, who finished in fourth place in Round 5, produced a terrific fight back after starting 13th on the grid to complete the top six.
The third weekend at the Dubai Autodrome has once again confirmed the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge as the ultimate series in the region, bursting with talent, passion and sporting rivalry.
Season 4 of the leading one-make series heads to the Reem International Circuit, Saudi Arabia after the winter break on the 6th and 7th February for Rounds 7 and 8.
The Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East Team Standings after Round 6 are: 1st Al Nabooda (245 points) 2nd Saudi Falcons (225 points), 3rd Team Bahrain (202 points).