Walter Lechner, the former motor racing star now driving the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East, expects the series to expand to take in more venues in the region over the next two years.
Lechner launched the new championship last December in partnership with Porsche Middle East and Africa and both were delighted with impact it made, with 12 rounds split between the international race circuits in Bahrain, Reem, Saudi Arabia and Abu Dhabi.
The second edition of the Porsche one-make series gets under way on the race support programme for November’s Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Formula One Grand Prix, and Lechner believes it can go from strength to strength.
“It took a huge team effort to get the championship off the ground and both my organisation, Porsche MEA and Porsche Motorsport in Germany were very happy with the results,” he said.
“Technically, the first season went very well and there were a lot of positives. Now we’re looking to build on what we’ve achieved. To begin with we want to attract more drivers and take the series to other Gulf countries over the next couple of years.”
Motor racing has been Lechner’s life for more than 30 years. He was European Formula Ford champion back in 1978 and in his heyday, when behind the wheel of a Porsche 956 or 962, was known as one of the best sports car drivers in the world.
Early in his racing career he set up the Lechner Racing School and also established his own team, Lechner Racing, which has enjoyed great success over the years, especially since first entering the renowned Porsche Supercup Series in 2003.
At the age of 60, he is busy as ever, jetting between places like Monte Carlo, Valencia, Silverstone and Hockenheim, to oversee his team’s four-car assault on the current Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup, the series which has been supporting the FIA Formula One World Championship since 1993.
He believes Saudi Arabia’s Prince Abdulaziz Al Faisal, the first winner of the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East, will still be the man to next season, although he could find it a lot tougher second time around.
“He has a lot of good qualities as a driver, and he’ll be determined to hold on to his title,” said Lechner. “But it will be interesting to see how he reacts to being the defending champion, and the one all the rest want to beat.”
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