The region’s most professional racing series, the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East, is set to make its fast-paced return to the Losail International Circuit, Qatar this weekend with Round 4 getting underway on Friday 31 January and Saturday 1 February 2014.

Under the lights, the previous round saw the region’s leading drivers encounter challenging wet conditions in Qatar as the series now powers towards the business end, where every points counts. Reigning champion Clemens Schmid of Al Nabooda Racing currently leads the championship by 27 points and will be targeting two victories as he closes in on his second title.

With the top five separated by only 47 points and 150 left to play for, the fifth edition of the series promises to go down to the wire as has been the case in previous years. Losail International Circuit is once again set to be the next battleground as the drivers congregate in Qatar for more drama and high-octane action.

Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East manager, Walter Lechner, said:

The Losail International Circuit is one of the highlights of the season and we are happy to be back. As we saw in Round 3, it is a different challenge driving under the lights which pushes the drivers further and adds even more excitement to the competition. We are delighted to be back in Qatar and produce two more absorbing races…We have witnessed some sensational action this season and we cannot predict the results in any of the races. Clemens Schmid is currently leading the championship but he is in a real battle with Zaid Ashkanani and Abdulaziz AlFaisal, and they will push him all the way to the final race. We are in for a thrilling end to the season once again.’

At the beginning of the campaign, Schmid seemed odds-on to dominate the field and defend his title but he has faced stiff opposition in the form of Ashkanani, Skydive Dubai Falcons Sheikh Hasher Al Maktoum and Al Faisal.

In Race 1 in Doha, Schmid produced a superior racing display to claim victory from pole to chequered flag by 3.384 seconds over second placed sensation of the season Ashkanani, and third-placed Al Faisal. The UAE-based Schmid, 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.

Race 2 was the most challenging encounter of the season, as wet conditions and a rolling start ensured another riveting contest which saw stand-in driver Jeffrey Schmidt helping the Saudi Falcons to a sensational victory.

Starting from pole position and sitting in for Faisal Binladen, Schmidt produced a flying start to canter through to a 5.750 seconds victory. Ashkanani continued his impressive run of form to finish runner-up, ahead of reigning champion Schmid and moving second on the championship standings, 27-points behind the Austrian.

Switzerland’s Schmidt, with a burgeoning reputation in motorsport in his teenage years, dominated from a rolling start following heavy rain throughout the day in Doha to control the race, and never looked threatened as he accelerated away from 17-car grid.

Looking forward to Qatar, reigning champion and current series leader Clemens Schmid said:

It has been an unbelievable season so far and it is no surprise the way the results have been going as it is a very strong grid. I have a relatively good gap at the top of the table but I am not taking anything for granted. Ashkanani has been phenomenal and with the form he is in anything can happen. I am looking to collect maximum points this weekend and with the next race on home territory I will be looking to close in on the title.’

Overall championship standings after Round 3

 

Name

Country

Team

Points

1st

Clemens Schmid

Austria

Al Nabooda Racing

146

2nd

Zaid Ashkanani

Kuwait

BuzaidGT

119

3rd

Abdulaziz AlFaisal

KSA

Saudi Falcons

112

4th

Hasher Al Maktoum

UAE

Skydive Dubai Falcons

103

5th

Karim Al-Azhari

UAE

Al Nabooda Racing

99

6th

Saeed Al Mehairi

UAE

Skydive Dubai Falcons

79

For the full race schedule, driver profiles or latest news on GT Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East, visit their official website.