Under glorious sunshine at the Losail International Circuit in Qatar Al Nabooda Racing’s Clemens Schmid was a shining example with a perfect weekend leading from start to finish in Race 2 of Round 3 in the region’s most competitive racing series, the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East.
The second successive victory in as many days gave the UAE resident an even larger lead at the top of the Drivers’ Standings, extending the gap to 10 points from rival at the symbolic halfway stage of the series from Kuwaiti star and defending champion Zaid Ashkanani who finished second today. Fahad Algosaibi was third with Skydive Dubai’s Saeed Al Mehairi fourth and his teammate Sheikh Hasher Al Maktoum fifth.
Just as he did in Race 1, Clemens Schmid had a powerful start to Race 2 but was immediately under pressure from his closest rival Ashkanani. Despite a few anxious moments where he almost lost control of the car the UAE resident kept his composure to hold off the Kuwaiti in what was an exciting and close competition. The victory sees Schmid build a healthy 10 point lead over Ashkanani in the Drivers’ Standings with three rounds gone but three more still to come.
Although Schmid backed up his win in the opening race with another victory it was a lot harder to earn as the Al Nabooda driver explained:
“That was a very tough race for so many reasons but it’s the perfect result for me, but more importantly for Al Nabooda Racing as today we won for the team. I really struggled to get temperature into the front tires which made the car slide and hard to control. Yesterday’s race was a lot easier for me. Today I drifted wide twice but fought had to stay ahead. I could feel Ashkanani closing in but I worked hard and in the end it was a sweet victory. I hope we can do the same again in two weeks’ time, win the races and win for the team when back in Qatar. To be 10 points clear at the half way stage is a great position.”
After starting from fifth on the grid Saeed Al Mehairi had a sensational start which saw him and his Skydive Dubai teammate, Shaikh Al Maktoum, both jump two places to third and fourth respectively. A mistake in the early laps meant Al Mehairi dropped down to fifth at the expense of his Emirati partner but with just after the halfway stage was able to squeeze past and secure fourth, nearly capturing third.
Speaking after Race 2 Saeed Al Mehairi commented: “That was a really good weekend for me personally and for the team. Not only do we have confidence in the car we have real belief that this is where we belong and that we are capable of winning even on tracks outside of Dubai. That’s a real step forward. Although the result wasn’t as good as yesterday it was a strong performance. I was on used tires and every driver in front of me was on a new set. I have to be happy as I kept pace with those at the front and also fought back from sixth at one point to come fourth. We are desperate to win the team title for the first time and that it’s a real possibility if we keep results coming like this.”
Race 1 of Round 3 had shown just how important a good start can be and in Race 2 the frontrunners all got away from the start line well. Zaid Ashkanani was unable to get passed Clemens Schmid on pole and settled in tightly behind the UAE resident on turn one.
The Skydive Dubai duo of Saeed Al Mehairi and Sheikh Hasher Al Maktoum had the best start as they moved from fifth and sixth up to third and fourth. With Qatari resident Charlie Frijns right on their tail.
In the early laps Schmid made two slight mistakes allowing Ashkanani to close the gap piling the pressure on the championship leader. Despite narrowing Schmid’s advantage in the closing laps Ashkanani couldn’t quite get passed his rival and had to settle for second.
Further back in the field the competition between the Skydive duo and Charlie Frijns allowed Ahmad Al Harthy to close in from seventh and also Raed Raffii from eighth, but the pair were unable to challenge the drivers up ahead and finished as they had started.
The region’s leading drivers will line-up in the Porsche 911 GT3 Cup again as the star attractions at Losail International Circuit for Race 1 and Race 2 of Round 4 on the 5th and 6thof February.
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.
Overall championship standings after Race 2 Round 3 – Top 6
Al Nabooda Racing
Hasher Al Maktoum
Skydive Dubai Falcons
Saeed Al Mehairi
Skydive Dubai Falcons
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