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Ashkanani finishes 4th in Porsche GT3 Cup Round 4 opener Schmid, Al-Faisal top race

KUWAIT CITY, Feb 1: Kuwait’s Zaid Ashkanani paid the price for a jump start and missed out on a podium place to finish fourth in the opening race in Round 4 at the Losail International Circuit in the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East. The Kuwaiti driver, who has been in scintillating form all season, incurred a 20 second penalty for a jump while on pole position which ultimately cost him a memorable second victory in his blossoming Porsche career. Instantly undoing the stunning effort of securing pole the young star fell to 4th position with the time penalty imposed and gifting the race to a grateful Clemens Schmid of Al Nabooda Racing. Former champion Abdulaziz Al-Faisal of Saudi Falcons was promoted to second and Saudi Arabia’s Fahad Algosaibi completed the podium in third.

Despite the disappointment of the penalty, Ashkanani produced a mature performance and outstanding display of speed from pole to chequered flag without being threatened by Schmid and Al-Faisal. Such was the composure of the Kuwait star, his experienced title rivals all showed great respect and public commended Ashkanani’s race as he broke clear of the field.   In a sporting gesture after the race win, reigning champion and eventual winner Schmid said: “The real winner today was Zaid Ashkanani but motorsport can be cruel. Luck has gone my way and I am very pleased to have got maximum points for Al Nabooda Racing. It was an unfortunate error from Zaid and it can happen to any driver. He wanted to get off to a good start. Despite he drove brilliantly.

Adding his support, Saudi Falcon Al-Faisal said: “Motorsport is tough sometimes and Zaid unfortunately found out the hard way. He produced a controlled and measured race but deep down he knew would be penalised. I had an excellent start by overtaking Frijns in the opening lap and had great momentum and was within reach of Schmid. But my tyres lost grip in the middle section of the race and lost ground on him. I look forward to the next race and hopefully can improve further.” The most intense battle for points and track position saw five cars in the thick of the action all entertaining a large crowd. Saudi’s Algosaibi, Skydive Dubai Falcons duo of Sheikh Hasher Al Maktoum and Saeed Al Mehairi and Team Bahrain’s former champion Salman bin Rashid Al Khalifa and Mohammed Matter were all involved in a number of fierce nip and tuck exchanges with daring overtaking manoeuvres.

Starting fifth on the grid, Algosaibi immediately gained ground on those ahead of him on the grid and moved into fourth place in the first lap, overtaking Frijns, who fell down the pecking order. From there he was under immense pressure from Hasher Al Maktoum and Al Mehairi. Despite positions changing regularly throughout the race, Algosaibi managed to keep his nerve to claim third thanks to Ashkanani mistake on the start line. Speaking after the opening race of Round 4, Algosaibi said: “It is a great feeling to get onto the podium. It was a tough race for everyone with a lot of position changing constantly throughout. But I managed to win the midfield battle and keep the Skydive Dubai Falcons at bay and get across the finish line.”

For local motorsport fans that turned out in their thousands to witness the Porsche debut of Qatari hero Nasser bin Saleh Al Attiyah for Team QMMF it was a proud night. The Olympic medallist and Dakar Rally champion best known for his outstanding rallying career proved his natural racing ability extends to the track as he took to the podium. Al Attiyah’s first Porsche GT3 race experience saw the legend win the Silver Michelin category in impressive fashion, finishing a very credible 11th overall. Al Nabooda Racing lead the team title by 38 points from Saudi Falcons and SkyDive Dubai Falcons despite an uncharacteristic result for UAE’s Karim Al-Azhari who finished in 12th.

Overall Championship Standings
Name     Country    Team    Points
Clemens Schmid    UAE    Al Nabooda Racing    171
Zaid Ashkanani    Kuwait    BuzaidGT    138
Abdulaziz AlFaisal    KSA    Saudi Falcons    135
Hasher Al Maktoum    UAE    Skydive Dubai Falcons    120
Karim Al-Azhari    UAE    Al Nabooda Racing    108
Saeed Al Mehairi    UAE    Skydive Dubai Falcons    94

Overall Team Standings
    Name    Country    Points
1st    Al Nabooda Racing    UAE    275
2nd    Saudi Falcons    KSA    237
3rd    Skydive Dubai Falcons    UAE    211
4th    BuzaidGT    KUW    206
5th    Team Bahrain    BAH    152
6th    Milon Racing    GER    93

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