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Ashkanani secures maiden GT3 Cup victory Schmid, Al Faisal finish 2nd & 3rd

DUBAI, Dec 14: Kuwait’s Zaid Ashkanani secured his first race win in the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East with victory in Race 2 of Round Two at the Dubai Autodrome in what was the closest contest of the series’ fifth season so far. Starting from pole on the 16-car grid, Ashkanani produced a scintillating performance that defied his age to lead from the start, despite immense pressure from reigning champion Clemens Schmid. Al Nabooda Racing’s Schmid almost snatched victory on the final lap but the Kuwaiti kept his cool to cross the line first with Saudi Falcons Abdulaziz Al Faisal coming in third.

Following his victory by 0.913 seconds Ashkanani said: “It was a tough race and I was concentrating as hard I could right until the very end. I learned a lot from yesterday’s sessions but the pressure I felt today was huge. I feel I can take a lot from this race and I’m looking forward to building some momentum in the January round in Qatar.” Skydive Dubai Falcons duo of Sheikh Hasher Al Maktoum and Saeed Al Mehairi improved on their performances from race 1 in front of a sizeable home crowd. Sheikh Hasher, starting sixth on the grid battled his way through the traffic to finish fourth, while team-mate Al Mehairi finished tenth.

Sheikh Hasher Al Maktoum said: “I have to be satisfied with the result. I moved up two places from sixth to fourth but by the time I’d done that the front three were out of reach. I’m still learning, still getting to know the car and how to get the best performance out of it but for my first season I think so far my finishes have been reasonable. I’m already looking forward to Qatar. I’ve raced there once before and have the track memorized. With more time in the car I’ll push for the podium in Qatar.”  

In what was undoubtedly the most exciting race of the season so far which saw positions change frequently, Ashkanani continued his impressive start to the season to keep the experienced Schmid at bay throughout; the Austrian coming closest to a pass on the final lap. Schmid saw an opportunity to undertake the race leader but Ashkanani closed the door on his opponent.   Championship leader Clemens Schmid said, “I was disappointed with the result. We obviously wanted to come first but Zaid was quick and I didn’t get past him. I feel we did everything right in the race but I admit that the result could have been worse.”

As the top two battled it out, the competition in the middle was absorbing. Faisal Binladen, starting fourth on the grid, found himself second on the opening lap of the race, overtaking team-mate AlFaisal, but fell back to finish ninth.  Christina Nielsen fought her way through the traffic and resisted the constant challenges of Team Bahrain’s Salman bin Rashid Al Khalifa and Binladen. The trio interchanged positions on a regular basis with Nielsen finishing fifth and Al Khalifa sixth.

The Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East heads to the Losail International Circuit, Qatar for Round 3 on 17th And 18th January 2014.  For the full race schedule, driver profiles or latest news on GT Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East please visit the official website: www.gt3cupchallenge-me.com or follow series’ news at www.facebook.com/porscheGT3CCME or on Twitter @PorscheGT3CCME.

Top Six Players
Name    Country    Team
Zaid Ashkanani    Kuwait    Team BuzaidGT
Clemens Schmid    Austria    Al Nabooda Racing
Abdulaziz AlFaisal    KSA    Saudi Falcons
Sheikh Hasher Al Maktoum    UAE    Skydive Dubai Falcons

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