Clemens Schmid of Al Nabooda Racing produced another superior racing display to claim victory in the first of two races at the Losail International Circuit in Round 3 of the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East, while Skydive Dubai Falcons’ Sheikh Hasher Al Maktoum battled his way through the pack to finish sixth.
Starting from pole position, Schmid extended his lead at the top of the table with a commanding race. Meanwhile Kuwaiti teenager Zaid Ashkanani followed on from his maiden victory in Dubai last month with a second place finish ahead of Saudi Falcons’ Abdulaziz AlFaisal in third.
The UAE-based Schmid, who has won all the races with the exception of Race 2 in Dubai, controlled the contest after regaining his pole position in lap two, which saw the first appearance of the all-new Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car in Qatar.
Following his victory by 3.384 seconds, Schmid said:
An unbelievable race – especially after I lost my position in the first lap. But once I got in-front in lap two I controlled the race to win by a good margin. Usually by having pole position you have the advantage but I had to fight back and didn’t want to finish second again. I am happy for the team as it means we extend our lead in the Team title, but we have to go again in Race 2.’
In his first appearance in the series and starting second on the grid, Jeffrey Schmidt produced a stunning start and overtook Schmid on the first corner. But his lead did not last long as Schmid regained his advantage allowing him to control the pace of the race and take the chequered flag largely unthreatened.
Fresh from his victory in Dubai and starting third on the grid, Ashkanani showed his pedigree as a future series champion by overtaking Jeffrey Schmidt in lap five and, just as in Dubai, keeping his composure to see off the challenge of AlFaisal and claim his third runner-up spot of the fifth season.
For Ashkanani, it was another mature display under the lights at the Losail International Circuit. He said:
I am delighted with the result and following up from Dubai. I was under constant pressure from AlFaisal but managed to keep my focus and secure a podium place.’
Abulaziz AlFaisal produced another notable display after starting fourth on the grid to claim his second podium of the season, further cementing his position in the top three of the championship standings with Clemens Schmid’s Al Nabooda team mate Karim Al Azhari coming fourth and Jeffrey Schmidt finishing fifth for Saudi Falcons.
Sheikh Hasher Al Maktoum of the Skydive Dubai Falcons fought valiantly after qualifying in tenth, the Emirati driver coming into the Qatar in second place in the overall drivers’ championship. A good start and a titanic struggle with Team Bahrain’s Salman Bin Khalifa saw Al Maktoum come out on top to take sixth with his Skydive Dubai team mate Saeed Al Mehairi 9th.
Speaking after Race 1, Al Maktoum said:
It was a very close race. In the beginning of the weekend I wasn’t happy with my pace and qualifying 10th was not what I had hoped for. However I had a great start and gained two positions early on, from there we battled up to sixth and I have to say I’m reasonably happy with the result.’
For the full race schedule, driver profiles or latest news, visit the website of GT Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East.