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KUWAIT CITY, Dec 17: Zaid Ashkanani says he has passed the most difficult test in his first season with Al Nabooda Racing and is now ready to boost the team’s bid for a double title success in the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East.
Ashkanani began the 2015-16 Porsche campaign with his new team while still contesting the GP3 series, and found it difficult to swap between a one-seater and the classic GT3 Cup race car.
But with all 18 GP3 rounds now completed, the Kuwaiti driver is confident that he and new team-mate Jeffrey Schmidt can build on their impressive start to the Porsche GT3 Cup season which has seen them take a 45pt lead in the team championship.
“It wasn’t easy jumping between the two cars, especially when I was competing in both of them during the same weekend in Bahrain,” said Ashkanani during an Al Nabooda Racing media day at Dubai Autodrome this week.
“In the GP3 car you have much more downforce because it’s much lighter than the Porsche and gives you a lot more grip. When you switch to the Porsche you imagine you’ll have more grip than you get and can carry too much speed into the corners.
“It wasn’t easy to adjust, but now the GP3 season is over I’m fully focused on the GT3 Cup and should have no problems. We want the team and drivers’ titles”
Ashkanani, who has scored three GT3 Cup podium finishes so far this season, has quickly formed a close working partnership with new Al Nabooda Racing team-mate Schmidt, leader in the drivers’ title race after four wins out of four.
With the Dubai outfit chasing a third team crown in four years, Ashkanani says: “We share the same engineer and data and work on the set up of our cars together to get the best out of them. From the data I can see that Jeffrey is better in some sectors than myself, and in others I’m better, so we learn from each other.”
Ashkanani says he has improved steadily since he first arrived in the Porsche GT3 Cup series, making an instant impression in his debut season before going on to win the 2013-14 drivers’ title and finish runner-up last season.
“I learnt quite a lot from my first season when I made many mistakes, and I’m still learning,” he said. “The series is getting more competitive every season.
“At the moment I’m one tenth of a second slower than Jeffrey and it’s not easy to say where you can improve. It’s really about working with your engineer over small details, and that’s what I’m doing.”
Ashkanani and Schmidt will be back in Porsche GT3 Cup action with Al Nabooda Racing at Abu Dhabi’s Yas Marina Circuit on 22 January before they face two home race weekends at Dubai Autodrome on 29-30 January and 19 February.