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Ashkanani lights up track, hopes to secure top 3 finish Schmid eyes driver, team championship title

KUWAIT CITY, Feb 14: Overnight rain saw a delayed start to practice sessions for Round 5 of the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East in Dubai before Kuwait’s Zaid Ashkanani lit up the track with glimpses of the pace he hopes will secure him a top 3 finish over the weekend. The Kuwaiti youngster will be looking to find the form he showed earlier in the season which saw him beat championship leader Clemens Schmid to 1st place at the Dubai Autodrome in Round 2. A few months on and the track they will be racing on is slightly longer with a first section which Ashkanani himself calls “much trickier.”
It’s sure to create even more of the racing drama the Dubai crowds have become accustomed to especially as UAE resident Schmid looks to secure the driver and possibly even the team championship title this weekend.


Ashkanani represents Schmid’s biggest challenge and closest contender with the pair set to show down at the autodrome once again. For Ashkanani the weekend is another step in his ongoing development but the youngster has high ambitions, “I feel I’m getting faster and learning every time so that puts me in a positive frame of mind. There are definitely places I can improve on here this weekend; I’m losing a bit of time in a few corners but the car is feeling great so I have to look at myself to see if where it’s not going perfectly. Of course I want to win here in Dubai but a podium finish would be great. To be sitting second in the competition at this stage is not what I expected so I’m really happy and if it finishes like this I will be delighted. That said there is still a long way to go and I will be working hard to keep my focus.”


The second Dubai round of the series could be the most defining with home side Al Nabooda Racing closing in on the team title as their number one 1 driver Clemens Schmid looks to secure his second championship in as many seasons.
Right from Race 1 it was clear that UAE resident Schmid was aiming to pick up where he left off last year as he raced to the top of the table. 8 races down and Schmid sits 39 points ahead of his closest rival, Zaid Ashkanani, the only driver to have got the better of him on the track in 2013/2014.
Despite what appear to be whitewash results the improving standards have meant Schmid himself has had to dig deep to find the extra speed. Early on in the season Skydive Dubai Falcons’ Sheikh Hasher Al Maktoum wasted no time in showing his driving talents and pushed the Al Nabooda man in the drivers’ championship.


Now, after a few disappointing  rounds by his own high standards, two-time former champion Abdulaziz AlFaisal is in the thick of the title fight and with 100 points up for grabs over the next two rounds, there remains everything to drive for.
The region’s leading drivers will line-up in the new Porsche 911 GT3 as the star attraction of the Dubai Motorsport Festival this weekend. The drivers will face 10 laps of the 5.39KM Grand Prix Circuit at the Dubai Autodrome with Race 1 on Friday, Feb 14 and Race 2 on Saturday, Feb 15.
The grid will include championship leader Clemens Schmid and Qatar’s rally legend Nasser bin Saleh Al Attiyah, who makes his Porsche debut in the UAE.
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.

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