2013-03-13 09:18:23 - Saudi Falcons reigning champion Abdulaziz AlFaisal will be looking to close the gap at the top of the table after finishing second in Round 9 of the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East at Losail International Circuit.
After starting third on the 15-car grid, Abdulaziz moved up a place in the first lap but could not close the gap on rival, Al Nabooda Racings Clemens Schmid, who produced a flawless race to claim his fifth win in a row and extend his lead by eight points over Saudi Falcons Abdulaziz AlFaisal in the overall championship standings.
An optimistic Abdulaziz said he is confident of success in Round 10 and putting pressure on Schmid. He added: “I am pretty happy with my performance. I started third on the grid and finished in second position. Obviously you want to win the race but there is plenty to play for in the coming rounds. I have the belief that I can
turn things around, starting in Round 10.”
The fight for supremacy began with the top two being separated by Lechner Racings Markus Pommer, who started second on the grid, while Abdulaziz began Round 9 third on the grid. Teenage rookie Charlie Frijns was the surprise package of the qualifying rounds as he started fourth on the grid, pushing Saudi Falcons Faisal Binladen into fifth with Kuwait’s Zaid Ashkanani in sixth.
In an action-packed night-time race, where three drivers were forced out of the race in the first lap, Schmid was never threatened by Abdulaziz and Pommer as he accelerated his lead with each lap and marched on to claim his seventh victory in nine rounds by 7.815 seconds. With the top two sorting themselves out, Pommer and Saudi Falcons Faisal Binladen were engrossed in a battle to claim the third podium position.
Starting second on the grid, Pommer lost his position in the early stages of the race to Binladen, but regained it at the halfway stage of the 12-lap race to claim third place. The battle to complete the top-six was just as pulsating with Al Nabooda Racings Karim Al-Azhari, Binladen, Bahrain’s Mohammed Mattar and Kuwait’s Zaid Ashkanani battling for positions.
UAE’s Al-Azhari produced a fantastic final lap to overtake Binladen and Ashkanani to claim fourth place, with Binladen seeing off the challenge of Ashkanani to finish fifth, while Mattar jostled with the Kuwaiti and piped him into sixth place.
A disappointed Binladen said: “For the first half of the race, I was in a perfect position to finish in the top three, but Pommer was far too quick for me and overtook me to claim third. Then I was involved in a midfield battle with Al-Azhari and Zaid. It was very tight between the three of us, and Karim used his experience to overtake us and claim fourth position. It was not what I expected in this race, so I am determined to produce the goods in Round 10.”
The Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East championship standings after Round 9 are: 1st Clemens Schmid (203 points, 2nd Abdulaziz AlFaisal (195 points), 3rd Karim Al-Azhari (161 points).
The Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East Team Standings after Round 9 are: 1st Al Nabooda (364 points) 2nd Saudi Falcons (341 points), 3rd Team Bahrain (287 points).