UAE: Porsche Cup ME Driver’s championship thrown wide open as Al Nabooda driver Schmid banned from Race 2

Schmid the Al Nabooda driver was found guilty of causing an accident through dangerous driving in Race 1

Dubai, Feb 15th 2014 – Defending champion Clemens Schmid has been banned from the Race 2 of Round 5 of the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East, after the Al Nabooda driver was found guilty of causing an accident through dangerous driving in Race 1. The stewards’ decision this morning has blown the drivers’ championship wide open with Abdulaziz AlFaisal and Zaid Ashkanani poised to leapfrog Schmid in the standings.

Yesterday’s Race 1 incident saw UAE resident Schmid clip the car Bandar Alesayi in the second corner of the second lap which caused the Saudi driver to roll, but walk away uninjured from his Porsche GT3 Cup car. After damaging his car Schmid was forced to retire from Race 1 which allowed two-time former champion Abdulaziz AlFaisal to take the maximum 25 points, and reduce the gap on championship leader to just 19 points.

Commenting on the incident this morning Clemens Schmid said, “I have to accept responsibility for the incident. Obviously I am disappointed but the stewards’ decision is the correct one. It’s the first time it has ever happened to me in my driving career but now I have to look ahead to the final round of the series in Bahrain in March.”

Schmid’s ban from Race 2 of Round 5 is similar to the punishment handed down to Mohammed Mattar in Round 2 of the series on the same track in December last year. The Al Nabooda driver’s exclusion however, stands to have a substantially more dramatic impact on the fifth season of the competition as a whole. The Austrian’s failing to finish in Race 1 has allowed Saudi Falcons’ Abdulaziz AlFaisal and in-form Kuwaiti star Zaid Ashkanani to mount a stronger claim for the championship title, with the potential Schmid could drop down to third in the standings depending on how the results go in Race 2 this evening.

Yesterday’s action packed race has set up a most dramatic conclusion to Round 5 with Skydive Dubai Falcons Saeed Al Mehairi looking to build on his second place finish in Race 1. The Emirati driver finished ahead of third placed Fahad Algosaibi and behind overall winner AlFaisal and proves that today’s race, even without Schmid, is far from a forgone conclusion.

In a memorable race in front of thousands of fans AlFaisal recorded his first win of the fifth season, overtaking local favourite Al Mehairi with one lap to go in a gripping encounter that was filled with excitement on every lap.

Round 5 had been billed as a defining moment in the championship and it didn’t disappoint. Right from the start the action came fast and furious as the man to beat Schmid was forced to withdraw; a slight collision with AlFaisal and then a second red flag incident involving Alesayi ended the race for Schmid and led to a restart. Once underway for the second time Al Mehairi was aggressive and seized control of the race from the front, despite the constant pressure from AlFaisal.

With an unlikely victory in sight, Al Mehairi made a minor mistake on worn tires at the end of the back straight with one lap to go and provided an opening for AlFaisal. It was the gap former champion AlFaisal had been waiting for and he instantly slipped past Al Mehairi to take the chequered flag.

Having enjoyed the top step of the podium AlFaisal said: “It was a very tough race and very satisfying at the same time. At this point in the season there is a lot of tension and the grid this year is very tight with little between the drivers. There was quite a bit of contact at the start and we lost a couple of drivers but that’s racing. I managed to keep myself safe. Today I just stayed patient and it paid off. This result could be crucial come the end of the season. ”

The result sees the gap at the top of the overall standings narrow to just 19 points as AlFaisal (177) moves into second place ahead of Zaid Ashkanani (174) who is 22 points behind Schmid (196), with 75 points on offer and three races of the season left .

Following his first Porsche podium a thrilled Al Mehairi of Skydive Dubai Flacons said: “This is the best moment in my driving career. To finish second, make the podium and get important points for the team, all at a home race in Dubai is incredible. Obviously part of me is disappointed to not win, when I was leading for 90% of the race but Abdulaziz (AlFaisal) put me under real pressure.

“I’ll take a lot from this race though. I started fifth and finished second. I was aggressive from the start. It’s a great feeling but there will be no partying tonight. The real work starts again now with the mechanics as I want to be back on the podium again tomorrow. I think I can still get quicker.”

The podium was completed by talented youngster Fahad Algosaibi of Saudi Arabia who continued the form which saw him finish second in the last race at Losail International Circuit for Round 4.

In the midfield tussle for the top 6 places Charlie Frijns, Zaid Ashkanani and Skydive Dubai Falcons Sheikh Hasher Al Maktoum went head to head with places constantly changing on each lap. In the end Frijns secured fourth, Ashkanani fifth and Al Maktoum sixth.

Elsewhere Al Nabooda Racings Karim Al-Azhari who started ninth on the grid improved by two places to claim important points in his team’s quest to defend the Team title as Al Nabooda continue out front. While Qatari motoring legend Nasser Al Attiyah impressed again winning Silver category in tenth overall.

The region’s most professional racing series continues at the Dubai Autodrome with the second race of Round 5 tomorrow, Saturday 15th February at 15:55.

Overall championship standings after Race 1 Round 5 – Top 6

 

Name

Country

Team

Points

1st

Clemens Schmid

UAE

Al Nabooda Racing

196

2nd

Abdulaziz AlFaisal

KSA

Saudi Falcons

177

3rd

Zaid Ashkanani

Kuwait

Buzaid GT

174

4th

Hasher Al Maktoum

UAE

Skydive Dubai Falcons

145

5th

Karim Al-Azhari

UAE

Al Nabooda Racing

135

6th

Saeed Al Mehairi

UAE

Skydive Dubai Falcons

130

 

Overall Team Title standings after Race 1 Round 5 – Top 3

 

Name

Country

Points

1st

Al Nabooda Racing

UAE

327

2nd

Saudi Falcons

KSA

288

3rd

Skydive Dubai Falcons

UAE

272

 

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