UAE based driver Schmidt wins dramatic Race 1 of Round 5 at Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East
Runaway leader in the driver's standings, Al Nabooda Racing Team's Jeffrey Schmidt, had little trouble securing yet another comprehensive win on home soil as the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East series returned to the Dubai Autodrome for Race 1 of the penultimate round this season. In an action-packed race, fellow teammate Zaid Ashkanani narrowly clinched third place behind Saudi Arabia's Abdulaziz AlFaisal in second.
Victor of Race 1, Round 5, Jeffrey Schmidt said:
"Race one was very tough with a lot of action throughout. I qualified in pole position this morning and felt fast out on the track. Starting at the front of the grid, I had a good start but coming out of turn one Ryan Cullen was very close behind me and stayed there for over half of the race. He was putting a lot of pressure on and I had to defend really well to keep him behind me. All of sudden Ryan span out on the last turn and touched the wall which gave me the perfect opportunity to extend my lead at the front and was able to stay there until the finish."
"I am very happy with first place and it is another step in the right direction for myself and Al Nabooda Racing Team ahead of Race 2 and the final round in Bahrain next month," he added.
Ahead of the hugely anticipated festivities at the Grand Prix Circuit of the Dubai Autodrome, the track had been reconfigured to provide drivers and motorsport fans alike with 14 high-octane laps – a significant change offering up a shorter and faster track of 4.29km. Already from the morning's qualification it was clear that the drivers would be up for the challenge, with Schmidt able to start the race in pole position ahead of Ireland's Ryan Cullen and Kuwait's Zaid Ashkanani – mirroring the top-three in the driver's standings ahead of this decisive round.
With only a handful of points separating Schmidt and Cullen, the stage was set for an intensely competitive race between the two talented drivers and the rest of the pack. Already from the start there were nervous moments with Ashkanani dropping two places by the first bend of lap 1 thanks to a poor start, allowing Saudi Arabia's Abdulaziz AlFaisal to catapult himself into the podium battle. This then set Schmidt and Cullen up for a breath-taking bumper-to-bumper contest throughout the first nine laps, ahead of the pack.
With only four laps to go, the scene was set for pandemonium as Ryan Cullen spun out and hit the wall after pushing too hard. The failed manoeuvre reshuffled the pack and brought Ashkanani back in contention for a podium finish, all but confirming yet another dominant win for the imperious Schmidt ahead of AlFaisal in second.
Race 2 of Round 5 in the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East continues later this weekend, when all eyes will be on Al Nabooda Racing Team and their dynamic duo of Jeffrey Schmidt and Zaid Ashkanani.
Regarded as the purest form of racing with all drivers competing in identical fifth generation Porsche 911 GT3 Cups, the unique one-make series consists of 12 races between November 2015 and March 2016. Season 7 concludes at the illustrious Bahrain International Circuit between 4th and 5th March.