DUBAI, Jan 31: Kuwait’s Zaid Ashkanani took fourth place with an assured drive in Race 2 of Round 3 of the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East at Dubai Autodrome, cementing his third place postion in the overall team championship. Ashkanani’s Al Nabooda Racing team mate Jeffrey Schmidt took victory and was joined on the podium by Qatar-based Charlie Frijns and the winner of the previous day’s Race 1, Ryan Cullen, in third.
The fourth place finish wraps up a solid weekend for the young Kuwaiti star who moved up from his qualification place of fifth to finish fourth, just outside the podium places. The result, while not ideal, allows Ashkanani to take confidence in his current third place in the championship and also highlights the extremely competitive nature of Season 7.
Speaking after taking third in the Bronze Category in Race 2 of Round 4 of the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East Zaid Ashkanani said: “Unfortunately for me this is not the weekend I hoped for, it was difficult for me today as I started in 5th place on the grid. I managed to climb one place but just didn’t have the speed or power to catch up with the others. I have learnt a lot from this weekend, me and the team will be looking at certain things both with the car and with my performance so that we can come back stronger next round here.”
Initially billed as the glorious homecoming of the Al Nabooda Racing team, Race 1 of Round 4 threw the Driver’s Championship wide open with Ryan Cullen stealing a surprise victory over Jeffrey Schmidt who was forced to retire. The result saw Cullen close the championship race down to just one point with Schmidt clearly out to prove a point in Race 2.
Qualifying on pole it was Charlie Frijns who showed the pack the way to turn one with a strong start which kept Schmidt and Abdulaziz AlFaisal at bay. Zaid Ashkanani was an early winner as he pushed past Ryan Cullen on lap one. At turn one of lap two Frijns’ brakes locked causing to run slightly wider with Schmidt quick to pounce and take the lead.
In the battle for third Ashkanani piled the pressure on Abdulaziz AlFaisal as Ryan Cullen returned the favour on the fourth placed Kuwaiti driver. On lap three Ashkanani’s pressure yielded results as AlFaisal ran wide allowing both Ashkanani and Cullen to move up to third and fourth. Shortly after it was Cullen who saw a gap and seized the opportunity to take third from his rival.
As the second half of the race wore on Schmidt continued to extend his lead at the front while Abdulaziz AlFaisal challenged hard for fourth in an absorbing scrap with Zaid Ashkanani both drivers battling firmly but fairly, Zaid unwilling to give up his place.
After a thrilling weekend of racing, Round 4 at Dubai Autodrome will certainly go down as one of the most interesting editions of Season 7. After entering Round 4 with a 26 point lead, Jeffrey Schmidt has had his advantage cut to just 5 points by Ryan Cullen who has identified himself as a true challenger for the title. Kuwaiti starlet Zaid Ashkanani remains in third and has extended his lead over Saudi Arabia’s Abdulaziz AlFaisal (121pts) in fourth.
The region’s leading drivers will line-up in the Porsche 911 GT3 as the star attractions at Dubai Autodrome on Feb 19, for Round 5 of the region’s most professional racing series.
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.