Porsche BWT GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East returns for landmark 10th Season
The Porsche BWT GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East will celebrate the start of an historic 10th season with a new title partner, a new format, new categories and a host of new drivers when racing gets underway for the opening round on the 16-17th November, at the Dubai Autodrome.
As the longest running motorsport series in the Middle East, the championship organized by Lechner Racing on behalf of Porsche Middle East and Africa FZE, has dominated professional racing in the region since its inception in 2009.
Now entering Season 10, the series is poised to shift up a gear with the introduction of several new enhancements, all designed to increase competition and track time. Beyond a new title, thanks to the sponsorship of Best Water Technology (BWT), new features include the addition of four further races to create an extended 16-race championship calendar.
Already the response from the motorsport community across the world has been immediate, widespread and one of approval as the new season welcomes the most international grid ever assembled as the countdown continues to the opening race.
A total of 17 drivers representing 13 different nations have descended into Dubai for testing ahead of an action-packed first weekend, including two past-champions and seven debutants. Fans will be especially delighted to see the line-up proudly features home-grown favourites from the region, reigning Champion Al Faisal Al Zubair of Oman and Kuwait’s Zaid Ashkanani, best known for his breakthrough title winning performance in Season 6.
Amongst the notable newcomers to the series are Jesse Van Kuijk of the Netherlands, Germany’s Leon Koehler, Austria’s Michael Doppelmayr and Michael De Quesada of the United States of America. Spectators will be particularly interested in observing how the new talent from overseas will compare against the exciting new breed of emerging talent from the region. Young drivers such as Isa A. Al Khalifa and teammate Ali Al Khalifa of Team Bahrain, Omani Khalid Al Wahaibi and South Africa’s Saul Hack will ensure the fight for supremacy in the Pro-Am category is fiercely competitive.
Speaking at a press conference to launch Season 10, Markus Peter, Marketing Director, Porsche Middle East and Africa FZE: “Since 2009 until present day, Porsche and Lechner Racing have been on a mission to bring world-class motorsport to the Middle East and to develop the skills of all who compete. I believe we have succeeded. The growth this championship has seen over the last ten years is testament to the incredible work Walter and his team have done.
“Yet we believe, as do our partners at Lechner Racing, that we always need to evolve, to listen, to learn. That commitment to refine, improve and move forward lies at the heart of Porsche and this series. Progression is the simple motive behind these bold new enhancements and we look forward to seeing their impact as part of the most competitive and compelling season yet.”
Such is the global reputation and growing appeal of the highly successful one-make series, organizers have reconfigured the championship categories, aligning them with renowned races from Le Mans to Blancpain. In an effort to elevate the international status of the championship even further, competitors will now be placed in either Professional, Pro-Am or Amateur categories, dependent on ability or experience.
Manager of the Porsche BWT GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East and Lechner Racing, Walter Lechner added: “If someone asked me to describe my perfect grid to start Season 10 this would be it. The calibre of driver and range of nationalities is outstanding and highlights our global appeal as a beacon for motorsport in the Middle East. We have the perfect blend of proven professionals, many of whom are graduates of the championship and from the region, including two champions alongside a mix of new teenage talent and international veterans with proven pedigrees. There is something for everyone to race. Every lap counts. Everything lies in the hands of the drivers. That is the unrivalled foundation of the success of Porsche one-make series.”
The forthcoming schedule comprises of sixteen races across six weekends, held between the Dubai Autodrome, Yas Marina Circuit and Bahrain International Circuit.
The new season gets underway at the Dubai Autodrome with Race 1 at 16h05 on Friday, 16th November. Followed by back to back races on Saturday 17th November, with Race 2 scheduled to start at 11h30 and Race 3 at 15h15. Entrance is free to all fans.
The series then moves to Bahrain International Circuit in early December, before returning to the Dubai Autodrome followed by Yas Marian Circuit, with the final decisive rounds in Bahrain. The season will conclude with an official support race to the 2019 Formula 1 Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix in March 2019, the only regional racing series to do so.
The Porsche BWT GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East is recognised as having a profound impact on the sport’s development as it was the first regional championship backed by a manufacturer in the Middle East. It gives official drivers access to the latest Porsche 911 GT3 Cup race car, the same model used for international motorsport editions, such as the Porsche Carrera Cup and the Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup, the official F1 support race.