Qatar’s Charlie and Rob Frijns test in Bahrain

Qatar-based drivers Rob and Charlie Frijns and the unmistakeable sound of their Porsche 911 GT3 Cups roared into life at the Bahrain International Circuit as testing for Season 8 of the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East got underway. 

For motorsport fans the first practice sessions signal not only the start of a new season but also a new era, with an impressive line-up and significant increase in the number of drivers taking to the track. The testing session featured seventeen drivers in total including the father and son duo who return to the championship with a wealth of regional racing experience. 

Speaking after posting times amongst the top five quickest in testing Charlie Frijns said: “It feels great to finally get back out on the track here in Bahrain, this is one of my favourite circuits in the Middle East. So far the times are looking good and I am happy with the set-up of the car. I started in pole position here in the opening race last season and that’s the plan again this season. But it’s a very different grid so it will be interesting to see what happens.” 

“For the future of our sport I’m pleased to see so many new faces around the garages, it makes for healthy competition and definitely means that everyone will need to up their game”    

Rob Frijns is back to challenge for the Bronze category title. The experienced campaigner said: “Each year I tell myself that I am going to stop racing, yet each year I find myself here in the driving seat and testing ahead of the new season. It’s a passion and a determination that I can’t get rid of. While my heart still tells me that I should be racing I will be here giving these youngsters a good race and supporting Charlie’s aspirations. 

“I am always looking to improve on previous seasons and I still surprise myself with some of the lap times I put in on the track. Testing has been a great opportunity to see where I’m at ahead of next weekend and set some targets and expectations for the season.”   

A fast and furious two-day test period saw all drivers expected to compete in the new championship grasped the opportunity to get valuable laps completed behind the wheel of a pure-bred sports car, the 911 GT3 Cup. Testing marks an important milestone in the build-up to next weekend’s opening round, also taking place in Bahrain as part of the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) finale.

Season 8 will see one of the biggest grids in the history of the series and one of the most competitive, thanks to a host of fresh new faces making their full debut in the region’s leading championship.

Almost half of the drivers, to line up for the first race of the new season in Bahrain, will be completely new to the grid. A remarkable show of strength for the one of the most professional racing series in the Middle East.  

Commenting after a successful first testing session for the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East, founder, organiser and motorsport legend Walter Lechner said: “It’s wondering to have Charlie and Rob both back with us and this moment feels very special and is the result of years of development and commitment. Now with a grid of this size and average age so young, you can sense that the championship has really come of age and evolved to reach an entirely new level. It’s hugely satisfying to have a full grid of 17 drivers packed with the perfect blend of experience and young talent, coming from both within the region and internationally.”

“The region is embracing this championship, because drivers see it as their only real chance to compete at the highest level. We are known as offering a pathway to build experience to compete on the biggest stages of international motorsport, whether it’s the 24 Hours of Le Mans or the Porsche Supercup. And if testing is anything to go by, we’ve an exciting journey ahead!”   

The opening round of the six-round championship will feature two races this upcoming weekend. The first race will take place on Friday night, 18thNovember, under the lights at Sakhir/Bahrain, adding further to the drama of the occasion. The second race is scheduled on Saturday, 19th November, ahead of the spectacular 6 Hours of Bahrain, the season finale of the well-known WEC. 

With all drivers competing in identical Porsche 911 GT3 Cup cars, the one-make series will consist of 12 races between November 2016 and April 2017 over six pulsating weekends across three world class regional racing circuits, namely the Bahrain International Circuit, Dubai Autodrome and Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi. 

The 2016-2017 Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East race schedule is: 

Round 1
17 - 19 Nov 2016
Bahrain International Circuit, Bahrain

Round 2
9 - 12 Dec 2016
Dubai Autodrome, UAE

Round 3
27 - 28 Jan 2017
Dubai Autodrome, UAE

Round 4
10 - 11 Feb 2017
Yas Marina Circuit, UAE

Round 5
3 - 4 Mar 2017
Bahrain International Circuit, Bahrain

Round 6 – F1 Support Race
14 - 16 Apr 2017
Bahrain International Circuit, Bahrain

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