Team Bahrain well positioned after qualifying Dubai Autodrome for Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East Round 2
Team Bahrain’s Isa S. Al Khalifa has qualified in an impressive 9th place on the grid for the first of two races over the weekend at Dubai Autodrome in Round 2 of the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East, as part of the UAE National Day series.
Fellow countryman and team mate Ali Al Khalifa, who is making his debut in the championship this season secured a credible 13th place on the grid. The duo enjoyed perfect conditions on a sun soaked track to set their times around the demanded grand prix configuration in the all new GT3 Cup.
Isa S. Al Khalifa will be looking to advance further up the overall standings after a strong start to the season at the Bahrain International Circuit in mid-November. He currently sits in joint second in the silver category on 26 points, level with Christoffer Bergstroem of Sweden and two points behind main rival Magnus Oehman of Sweden.
Speaking after qualifying inside the top ten, Isa S. Al Khalifa said: “It’s great to be back at the Dubai Autodrome, I love this track, it’s very technical and challenging but that’s every drivers’ dream. Qualifying went well, I will start the race in ninth place on the grid, I would of like to have finished higher however the grid is becoming more and more competitive so it’s good to start within the top ten.
“The time between the drivers from 4th place to 9th place is so close, which is going to make the race very exciting today. A podium finish is the goal in both races, but to win my category this weekend in either race would be a dream come true.”
For compatriot Ali Al Khalifa, racing at the Dubai Autodrome continues a long list of ‘firsts’ for the newcomer in his debut season. But the emerging young star has already proven to be fiercely competitive and a quick learner. Going into the Dubai races he sits in second place in the bronze category and second in the GCC Rookie Championship.
After qualifying in 13th place Ali Al Khalifa said: “It’s my first time competing here at the Dubai Autodrome. It’s a great track and I’ve managed to get used to it quite quickly. I’ve been improving my times over the practice sessions and today I’ve set an even quicker time for qualifying. All the times are really close, and this gives me confidence going into the race as I am obviously close to the right pace. Now the focus is on race 1 and the goal is to win my category and move up the overall standings as much as I can.”
17 drivers representing nine different nationalities will line up on the grid this weekend, each seeking to finish in the top three positions especially on Saturday. The second race in Dubai is poised to hold even greater significance for those reaching the podium, as the region’s most successful and professional one-make series will reach a monumental milestone. The second battle of the weekend will mark the 100th race in the history of the championship.
Now in its ninth season, the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East was the first and remains the only regional championship backed by a manufacturer
The Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East consists of six race weekends with 12 races over a period of six months. Following the second round the championship returns to Dubai for Round 3, before visiting Abu Dhabi’s Yas Marina Circuit for Round 4. The final two rounds will be held in Bahrain, with the series coming to a thrilling conclusion as an official support race for the 2018 Formula 1 Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix.