Dubai, Dec 5th 2014 – Skydive Dubai Falcons’ Saeed Al Mehairi produced a composed and professional performance to secure his team their first ever win in Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East, taking the chequered flag in Race 1 of Round 2 at the Emirati’s home track of Dubai Autodrome, while his teammate Hasher Al Maktoum also finished on the podium in third.
The race had been billed as the battle of Dubai with UAE-based Al Nabooda Racing’s Clemens Schmid dominant in qualifying, as he has been in every race session so far. However, the championship leader suffered from a bad start which allowed Al Mehairi to take first and lead for the entire race before finishing ahead of Kuwait’s Zaid Ashkanani and Al Maktoum. On his guest appearance, KSA’s Abdulaziz AlFaisal finished fourth with Clemens Schmid fifth ahead of Charlie Frijns and Ahmad Al Harthy in sixth.
The victory in Dubai is a symbolic one and the coming of age for the Emirati team at Skydive Dubai who, despite many podium finishes in their debut season, had never managed to win a race until today. But it was Saeed Al Mehairi who wrote himself into the history books with their maiden championship race win coming in their home town to make it extra special. Saeed Al Mehairi eventually finished 1.335 seconds ahead of Zaid Ashkanani on the 5.39KM Grand Prix Circuit.
Speaking after his debut win in the series Al Mehairi said, “I’m really struggling to describe how it feels for me at the moment! It’s an incredible feeling to win the race especially in my hometown. I’m just so happy and glad to take the victory for myself and for the team. This is a dream come true and I’m hoping for the same tomorrow. I didn’t expect the start to happen the way it did but I saw a chance and took it. I really wanted to win and I am ecstatic to have secured the points. I was close to winning last year but I made a mistake and this year I’ve learnt from this mistake. Today I won the race which is about as good as it gets and shows the lesson learned.”
After taking maximum points from the opening races in Bahrain Al Nabooda Racing’s Clemens Schmid’s was expected to continue his dominance after posting by far the fastest lap of the qualifying session to start on pole. An uncharacteristically poor start changed all outlooks with the UAE-based driver forced to defend his position off the line.
Speaking after the race Clemens Schmid said, “I didn’t have a great start. Not at all and from there it was very hard to recover. Turn one set the tone and I soon realised this was probably not going to be my race. Tomorrow is a new day.”
As the cars entered the first corner with Ashkanani leading, Al Mehairi second and Schmid third, a battle for position saw the Emirati come out on top with Ashkanani second and Schmid down in sixth after a spin behind Abdulaziz AlFaisal, Hasher Al Maktoum and Bandar Al Alesayi respectively. As the race progressed Zaid Ashkanani pressed Al Mehairi but the Emirati’s composure allowed him to slowly build a gap between first and second.
Meanwhile, after losing a wing-mirror in a collision in turn one Qatar’s Abdul Rahman Al Thani suffered more bad luck when he got a puncture and was forced to retire in the very early stages.
Al Maktoum made his intentions to get past AlFaisal clear in the opening exchanges as he put the Saudi driver under all kinds of pressure, eventually squeezing his way into third with a strong move on lap three.
Racing on behalf of Classic Arabia in one-off outing Saudi Arabia’s Abdulaziz AlFaisal said “Although they kept me off the podium today belongs to Skydive Dubai Falcons. Last year they made their debut and Saeed came second to me in Dubai. This year they have taken first and third, that’s an incredible achievement and even more special that they could do it in Dubai. It’s exactly the type of racing and results that makes this championship so special and the only one of its kind in the entire region.”
Down in sixth place Schmid seemed to struggle to find his rhythm as Charlie Frijns put pressure on the championship leader, meanwhile Schmid’s Al Nabooda teammate Ahmad Al Harthy was unable to build on his ninth place start on the grid. As the drivers settled into the race the Frijns/Schmid battle continued with the drivers switching places on one occasion only for Frijns to give up his gain on the following lap.
Oman’s Al Harthy made a late dash towards the end passing Bahrain’s Raed Raffii while a spin from Saudi’s Aleyasi allowed the Al Nabooda Racing drivers to push up the pack.