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‘Ashkanani makes us proud of Kuwaiti youth’ Historical, Vintage & Classic Cars Museum congratulate Kuwait motorsports community

KUWAIT CITY, March 16: The Historical, Vintage & Classic Cars Museum on Friday congratulated the motorsport community in Kuwait for Zaid Ashkanani’s achievement in winning the Gold category championship at the recently concluded Porsche GT3 Challenge Cup Middle East2013/2014 international rally championship in Bahrain. Ashkanani was crowned the 2013/2014 Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East race victor, followed by Austria’s Clemens Schmidt and Abdulaziz Al Faisal in second and third places on the podium. The 19- year old Kuwaiti champion endured twelve rounds of racing which took place in the best international circuit in the Middle East from November 2013 to March 2014. It’s worth mentioning that the championship started in the Middle East region in 2009 with the participation of international racers much older and more experienced than the Kuwaiti youth.

Ashkanani first joined the championship during the 2013 season as a rookie with a high performance that surprised other racers and fellow rookies as well, as he always finished in first place among the rookies. He consistently maintained his first place since the start of the 2013-2014 season, culminating finally in the clinching of the overall gold category championship trophy, an achievement never before seen in the name of Kuwait.

“Ashkanani was a fierce competitor to other international racers, giving them a good run for their money in competitions which makes us proud of Kuwaiti youth for their determination and grit in terms of leaving a footprint on the international level”, said Eng. Zakaria Dashti, Media Director for the Historical, Vintage & Classic Car Museum, operators of the newly commissioned SIRBB Circuit, the newest home of Karting in Kuwait. Eng Dashti praised the SIRBB Circuit for offering the much needed sponsorship to Ashkanani since the beginning of the championship in November 2013, adding that the young champion will receive more support and sponsorship to continue to fly high the flag of Kuwait in international championships.

The top six winners of the race were as follows:
1. Zaid Ashkanani  (Kuwait) of BuZaid Team — Champion
2. Clemens Schmidt (Austria) of Naboodah Racing Team
3. Abdul Aziz al-Faisal (Saudi Arabia) of Falcons Team
4. Hasher Al Maktoum (UAE) of Sky Dive Dubai Falcons Team
5. Karim Azhari (Emirates) of Naboodah Racing Team
6. Saeed Al Muhairi (Emirates) Sky Dive Dubai Falcons Team

Meanwhile, in the race proper, Zaid Ashkanani’s performance has sent him straight into the record books as Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East’s youngest ever champion after he finished third in the final race of the season at the Bahrain International Circuit. Taking a five point lead into the final race of the season the ramifications at the start were clear for Ashkanani. He simply had to win the encounter or finish two places behind the UAE-based Schmidt. The Kuwaiti produced the race of his short career to claim third place, behind Charlie Frijns and championship runner-up Schmidt.

Speaking after claiming the title, an emotional Ashkanani said: “It hasn’t sunk in yet but today saw the toughest race of the season and my best. I have worked very hard this year to claw-back the points on Schmidt and I am delighted to be the youngest champion in the series. I would like to thank my father for his fantastic support and the confidence he has instilled in me.  “The rolling start meant I was playing catch-up quite early and was involved in a tough fight with Abdulaziz AlFaisal and Karim Al-Azhari for third position. I was aware of what I needed to do at the start of the race and once I gained third place I just tried to stay focused,” added Ashkanani.

Race 2 in Round 6 was interrupted after the initial start following an on-track incident and began with rolling start where Schmidt held pole and Ashkanani fifth. Schmidt made full use of his advantage to extend the gap between himself and the rest of field to win Race 2 by 4.393 seconds with Frijns also maintaining a substantial distance between himself and the next driver. The real-battle was for third place and delivered the fight of the season between Ashkanani, Al-Azhari and AlFaisal. Al Nabooda Racing’s Al-Azhari initially took control of the spot despite being bumper-to-bumper with Ashkanani in the opening laps. Then Saudi Falcons’ AlFaisal pounced on a mistake by Al-Azhari to overtake the UAE-driver into third. But he never had full control of the position and was under constant pressure from Ashkanani.

At the mid-point of the race, Ashkanani, Al-Azhari and AlFaisal were neck-and-neck going into the first corner and the decisive moment of the race was to unfold. The Kuwaiti teenager was sandwiched between his adversaries but kept his composure to break free and take full control of third and the challenge title. Ashkanani is a really worthy champion and fully deserves the crown given his sterling performance through the tournament all season, producing an outstanding display of talent and perseverance to compete against highly formidable foes on the grid. The ultimate challenge for the young champion though could now be beginning as he has to reproduce this stellar form and more if he is to go on to defend the title.

By Iddris Seidu
Arab Times Staff

By: Iddris Seidu

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