Round 3 returns to Dubai between 27 - 28 January
The Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East will make its much-anticipated return to action this weekend, as the thrilling series restarts its engines following a welcomed winter break. After two action-packed rounds, the championship standings couldn’t be any closer.
At the Dubai Autodrome this Friday, 16 drivers from 12 different countries will once again make up a diverse grid comprising of professional, amateurs and rookies from around the world, in what is the region’s most competitive racing series. Racers from Ireland, Norway, Germany, Luxembourg, Sweden and Turkey return to Dubai to challenge local stars representing the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Qatar, Oman and Saudi Arabia.
The Motor City circuit will open its doors to the championship for the second time this season, with Round 2 having already provided intense racing action and exciting results throughout the grid.
In the last round, held in December, Qatar’s Charlie Frijns continued his fine form in Season 8, finishing in second place in Race 1 and winning his second race of the season in Race 2 in emphatic style. This allowed Frijns to rise to the top of the table, joint on points with Ireland’s Ryan Cullen before going into the winter break, standings that remain in 2017. Close behind the leading duo is Tom Oliphant from the UK who holds third place with only nine points separating places fourth to seventh going into the third round.
As the drivers look ahead to a new year of opportunity, they will be reflecting on the strong platforms many have built across the early parts of Season 8.
During Round 2, the UAE’s Bashar Mardini and KSA’s Mohammad Al Saud clinched their first podium finish of the season as championship debutants. Meanwhile teenage Omani sensation Al Faisal Al Zubair also took his first overall podium finish of the season, finishing behind championship leaders Ryan Cullen and Charlie Frijns in Race 2.
Qatar based driver Charlie Frijns will be looking to take his opportunity this weekend to steak his claim at the top of the driver’s standings. After impressive performances in the opening two rounds of the season, Charlie Frijns will be hoping to pull away from opponent Ryan Cullen who currently sits joint on points at the top of the championship standings. Frijns’ focus at the start of the season was to remain consistent throughout, the Qatar resident has raised his game from season 7 and is planning to let nothing slip over the remaining rounds. Ahead of Round 3 this weekend, Charlie Frijns said,
“I am extremely pleased with how the season has started for me, but now I need to forget about the races that have gone, and concentrate on the races I still have. It is going to be difficult to stay at the top of the standings, the competition is so high, and each race so far has been very different. I will take each race as it comes, focus on a strong qualifying time and go from there.
“I have been looking forward to the championship returning and I can’t wait to get back in the car and compete this weekend in Dubai.”
Following Round 3 this weekend the championship will shift its focus to Round 4 come February, at the illustrious Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi. The return to the well-known Formula 1 circuit will mark the halfway stage of Season 8, with all drivers continuing to push themselves for those crucial championship points, putting them in the best possible position for the final two rounds in Bahrain.
Season 7 at the Abu Dhabi circuit saw UAE-based driver Jeffery Schmidt win both races, a feat any driver is yet to achieve this season. With plenty of the drivers in this year’s championship experiencing the famous circuit for their first time, only time will tell which driver will be best placed to take the spoils from this popular track.
Speaking on the return of the series this weekend and looking ahead at the remaining rounds, Walter Lechner, founder and manager of the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East series, said;
“I am very excited for the return of the championship this weekend and, after speaking to a few of the drivers over the winter break, I know just how much it means to them to continue to do well in the series and prove themselves on the track. The level of competition has been extremely high over the opening two rounds, and we’ve witnessed some of the closest races this championship has ever seen.
“This part of the series is always pivotal, as the drivers are starting to find their form, and have a good idea of the targets they want to set for the rest of the season. With the leaderboard being so close, this is great for fans and spectators of the sport as the drivers know that losing out on even one position could be the difference on their overall position at the end of the season.”
Returning from the winter break this weekend, fans can experience the action of round three from the stands at the Dubai Autodrome on 27th-28th January 2017. Race 1 will take place at 3pm on Friday 27th, with Race 2 at the slightly later time of 3.40pm on Saturday 28th.