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Ashkanani moves a step closer title with victory in Race 1 Schmid finishes 2nd with Frijns in 3rd

BAHRAIN, March 7: Kuwait’s Zaid Ashkanani produced a stunning opening race in Race 1 of Round 6 to secure victory at the Bahrain International Circuit and move a step closer to his first Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East title. Starting on pole in the 20-car grid on the 2.5643 km circuit, Ashkanani did not have the best of starts as he lost his advantage on the first corner to Charlie Frijns and Skydive Dubai Falcons Saeed Al Mehairi. But the teenager showed all the hallmarks of a champion to keep his composure and reclaim the race lead on lap seven, and drive home to victory. Schmid kept his title ambitions alive by finishing second with Charlie Frijns third.

Speaking after the race, an ecstatic Ashkanani said: “It was one of the toughest races of the season and I had to battle to win. After a bad start I lost pole position in the first corner but kept my cool as I knew I it was a 20-lap race and I had time to claw my way back. I am one step closer to claiming the challenge trophy but there is still one more race to go and Schmid is a champion driver who will not let his crown go easily. But today I showed I want to win my first title and will do all I can to claim the prize.”

Race 1 produced an absorbing encounter with positions changing regularly between the top six.  Frijns took full advantage of Ashkanani’s poor start, jumping from second to first in the opening lap with Mehairi moving ahead of the Kuwaiti into second. Ashkanani bided his time until lap seven where he regained, taking advantage of mistakes made by Frijns and Al Mehairi to ensure control of the race.  Once in control, Ashkanani kept his nemesis Schmid at bay to win the race by 3.115 seconds and move five points clear in the title showdown with one race to go.
The battle to finish in the top six in the penultimate race of the season was just as exciting as the top half of the table. Skydive Dubai Falcons went into the race looking to close the gap on Saudi Falcons in the Team title category and duly obliged to the challenge. Despite moving into second at once stage of the race Al Mehairi finished fourth with Al Nabooda Racings Karim Al-Azhari finished fifth to help team-mate close in on the team title. 
Gold Category Overall Challenge Standings
Name Country Team Points
1st Zaid Ashkanani Kuwait Buzaid GT 224
2nd Clemens Schmid UAE Al Nabooda Racing 219
3rd Abdulaziz AlFaisal KSA Saudi Falcons 210
4th Hasher Al Maktoum UAE Skydive Dubai Falcons 181
5th Karim Al Azhari UAE Al Nabooda Racing 167
6th Saeed Al Mehairi UAE Skydive Dubai Falcons 166

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