KUWAIT CITY, Jan 13: Runaway leaders Al Nabooda Racing are ready for their toughest test of the season so far when the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East returns to Yas Marina Circuit for the first time in just over three years next week.
Jeffrey Schmidt and Zaid Ashkanani have given the Dubai-based outfit a record 45-point advantage in the GT3 Cup team championship after two of six race weekends making up the 2015-16 season.
Schmidt, who has a 12-point lead in the drivers’ championship after four race wins out of four, is aiming to maintain his 100% start to the season in Abu Dhabi on Friday week while Ashkanani will be looking for his first victory of the 2015-16 campaign.
But with back-to-back races separated by just a few hours following two qualifying sessions, team manager Vijay Rao says Schmidt and Ashkanani will need to be at their sharpest to tighten Al Nabooda Racing’s grip on the championship.
“After the start we’ve had, the aim is to increase our lead in the race for the team title, which is our priority in our tenth anniversary season,” said Rao.
“Zaid and Jeffrey are in a confident mood, but they both know that one mistake on a double race day can quickly change the championship picture. This will be our biggest test of the season so far and we want to be at our best.”
The return of the Porsche GT3 Cup series to Yas Marina Circuit comes ahead of race weekends at Dubai Autodrome on Jan 29-30 and Feb 19, before the climax at Bahrain International Circuit on 4-5 March.
After just four rounds in their debut season with Al Nabooda Racing, Schmidt and Ashkanani already look to have established a winning formula, and both will be aiming to score another first in Abu Dhabi.
While the two-times champions scored a team victory at Yas Marina Circuit the last time the series visited the UAE capital in December 2012, the two drivers have the chance to become the first to give Al Nabooda Racing an individual GT3 Cup race win at Yas.
- Al Nabooda Racing, UAE, 182 pts; 2. Sky Dive Dubai Falcons, UAE, 137 pts; 3. Al Faisal Racing, KSA, 112 pts; 4. Frijns Structural Steel ME, NED, 69 pts; 5. Team Bahrain, BAH, 64 pts.
- Jeffrey Schmidt – 100 pts; 2. Ryan Cullen – 86 pts; 3. Zaid Ashkanani – 82 pts; 4. Saeed Al Mehairi – 69 pts; 5. Hasher Al Maktoum – 67 pts; 6. Abdulaziz Al Faisal – 60 pts; 7. Charlie Frijns – 53 pts; 8. Saud Al Faisal – 52 pts.